This is an online version of my column for the 24 May 2023 edition of the Billericay & Wickford Gazette.
I guess many of you, like me, were glued to your TV on Saturday 6 May 2023 for the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey – a place where sovereigns have been enthroned for a thousand years. Most of us have not seen such an event before – apart from a few grainy television images.
This event was a historic moment in the life of our nation, a time to reflect on our history, to celebrate who we are and look to the future. In the midst of all the pomp and pageantry (it’s something we Brits do so well) was a service which was rooted in longstanding tradition and Christian symbolism with the connection between Church and State evident throughout.
I was struck by the introductory words to the service, when a young Chapel Royal chorister said: “Your Majesty, as children of the Kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of Kings.” To which the King replied: “In his name, and after his example, I come not to be served but to serve.”
To be in the Royal Family is no easy thing. Charles has not always been a picture-perfect prince and not every family member has handled the balance of privilege and responsibility with the grace or moral clarity that we would hope for – but then, is that not the case with many families?
Celebrities can be ‘cancelled,’ politicians voted out of office and into oblivion, media figures can be ‘deplatformed’ or hounded out of their jobs for offending the public – sometimes for going against current norms in the smallest of ways. But to be the sovereign, means carrying on, in the public eye, even when the criticism is unceasing, in season and out of season.
King Charles III understands this. He has served faithfully for many years already and he had waited patiently, and with much stamina and courage, to fulfil his destiny. Not many of us have to wait until we are 73 yrs. of age to begin the life of service we were set aside to do from childhood. He may or may not feel adequate to the task, but he has stepped forward to do the work that has been given to him to do: to be King.
No one else has that vocation, but each of us has some vocation that is given to us, and to no one else. We are, each of us, born into unique circumstances and with particular talents and aptitudes that we can use for the common good of everyone. What will you do with the gifts and privileges that have been given to you?
Before she died in 1997, Mother Teresa visited Phoenix, Arizona, to open a home for the poor. During that brief visit, she was interviewed by KTAR, the largest radio station in town. In a private moment, the announcer asked Mother Teresa if there was anything he could do for her. He was expecting her to request a contribution or media attention to help to raise funds. “Yes, there is. Find somebody nobody else loves and love them.” And we don’t have to look far to find them, do we? The High Street, Pub, Coffee Shop, Supermarket.
The coronation of King Charles III is a picture of service and an invitation to each one of us to consider our own calling. May each one of us follow in the example of the one, who: “… did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).”
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