The Sixtieth Anniversary of the Coronation

When a couple are married in church they spend a lot of the service facing the altar with their backs to the congregation. You might wrongly imagine that a wedding would be performed, so as many people as possible can see; most couples are certainly anxious to have decent photographs to remember it all by. Nevertheless by facing east the service is performed to make it clear that they are making their vows before God, as well as to each other.  By looking at the altar couples, who are often nervous, also enjoy a degree of intimacy and privacy at the heart of what it often a very public celebration.


As we mark sixty years since the coronation I was surprised to discover that the Queen was crowned with her back to the congregation too.  This is because the service wants to make the point that a coronation is a bit like a wedding, except the engagement is between God and the sovereign.  The sovereign offers an oath of loyalty and service.  God offers the gift of grace and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  It is a mutual exchange of gifts with the Queen offering to serve God and her people and God offering, in return, to bless and uphold her 


Sixty years on few people would doubt the sincerity of that commitment to serve others. Service and duty to others are sadly not as engrained in our culture elsewhere.  Rightly or wrongly there is often a belief that many public figures are more interested in personal gain than the public good.  


The New Testament is very clear that whilst we should have our eyes fixed on heaven we are called to engage fully with serving others in the world too. ‘Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another’ are St Peter’s words to the first Christians and that challenge remains for all of us today.


Father Michael

Posted By: valerie

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