Long Live the King!
Getting a new job aged 74 is quite a challenge.
King Charles III has served the longest apprenticeship in human history!
I hope that there will be many prayers offered for him as he approaches his Coronation and many sermons preached in honour of the occasion. Like the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, this once-in-a-lifetime event will be seen by billions around the world. Whether we are enthusiastic about the monarchy or not, this will be a subject that it will be impossible to ignore.
I am due to preach at City Evangelical Church in Leeds on Sunday 7th May. I will be preaching on King Josiah, the boy king who found the Book of the Law and was transformed by it. There are lots of preaching possibilities in the passage in 2 Kings chapters 22–23.
Looking at the order of service for the Coronation it includes the following traditional words for the presentation of the Coronation Bible:
The Moderator of the General Assembly of The Church of Scotland asks:
Sir: to keep you ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, receive this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.
There is much for the preacher to make use of there.
Amidst all the symbols of monarch, crowns, swords and thrones we have our gaze turned to a higher throne.
The whole Coronation service is full of biblical language and imagery. This is hardly surprising since there is so much in the Bible about kings and kingdom. It does not require mental gymnastics to move from what will take place on 6th May to preaching about Jesus the true king and his life transforming kingdom. As our earthly king bows the knee, we remember that there will be a day when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Thinking about the Coronation, I am reminded of Augustine’s great book, The City of God.
Against the backdrop of the disintegration of the Roman Empire the fifth Century AD, Augustine talks of two cities and two loves. The earthly and the heavenly city and earthly and heavenly loves.
Augustine reminds us that images of empire and the cities they construct are pointers to a truer and more satisfactory city. And that our loves point to a love that brings true inner freedom to be the people God has created us to be. These loves form our identities and shape our desires.
Augustine writes concerning the Emperor Theodosius, that he “took more joy in being a member of the church than in ruling the world”. (City of God V:26).
That is the attitude we should pray would exist in every human heart, including that of our new King.
It is a greater joy to be in the family of King Jesus than to rule any other type of kingdom.