The last regal coronation in the UK took place when I was under the age of two – a long time ago! Looking back, it ushered in a new Elizabethan age. And now we look forward to the Coronation of Charles III. It is worth, I think, each of us spending a moment, as to what it might mean.
Two words come to my mind – the first is continuity. We live in a rapidly changing world which, whilst bringing many possibilities, also leads to a great deal of stress. In England at least, we can look back over nearly 1000 years of a unified monarchy. They are a mixed bunch: the good, the bad and the ugly. But they have produced this linear unity, which, in a strange way holds our country together. Even the experiment with Republicanism in the C17th, led rapidly to a return of the monarchy – and ushered in the last Carolingian age – one perhaps of dubious moral example, but also one of enjoyment of life and peace after division.
The second word for me that comes to mind is unification. That may be less so now with both a growing, (though still relatively small) strand of Republicanism, and with a greater desire for independence amongst some of the constituent parts of the “United Kingdom.” (The phrase itself is thought provoking as it is the “King” that is integral to the very words) – but the monarchy is still a potent symbol of unity. And again, we live in an age of great, and many would say increasing, polarisation – with all the distress, anger and violence that can come from that. Anything that helps us towards a commonality is surely a benefit.
Continuity has the potential for stability. And even on a local level that is important. One of the things I love about our village churches is that they too have been here for nearly 1000 years and they, therefore hold something very important for us in our time, whatever our individual faith journeys. I like sitting in the church and thinking of the long line of Rectors that have been here – once again the good, the bad and the ugly!
Unity has the potential for each of us to grow as individuals based on respect for one another – even when we hold different points of view and see things differently. We can grow in community.
So, Charles’ Coronation is not I believe just a spectacle, a time for a day off. It points to something more – it needs to be celebrated. In Slindon we are doing this both with a church service at 11.00am on Sunday 7th May, but equally importantly, by a Coronation tea party held next to the Coronation Hall, (a fortuitous name in the circumstances) at 3.30pm that Sunday – there is a full article about the latter in the magazine.
And finally, my faith points also to that continuity and unity. The New Testament speaks of “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever”, which has been an anchor for me in easy and hard times. And, in John’s Gospel we are reminded of the unity we (should) have in faith and above all the Christian vision to love one another, just as God in Jesus loves us – and whatever our life’s journey, and however badly sometimes the church has set an example, that is a good vision for a community.
Have a good Coronation!
With my best wishes