Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
Tomorrow, King Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey.
This is an historic moment in the life of the nation and Commonwealth. Charles will be the 40th monarch to be crowned at the Abbey since the Coronation of William the Conqueror, on Christmas Day in 1066.
The Coronation service is explicitly Christian, a powerful reminder of the way in which the Christian story has profoundly shaped our culture. The essential elements date back to the crowning of King Edgar at Bath Abbey in 973, when he became the first King of All England. In that service, as with tomorrow’s, there was a procession, oaths, anointing, and investiture, followed by Communion.
The tradition of anointing kings with oil is grounded in the Old Testament where Samuel anointed Saul (1 Samuel 10:1). In tomorrow’s service, following the invocation of the Holy Spirit, Charles will prepare for his anointing in the middle of Handel’s great anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’. During the anthem, the King will be divested of his robes and ornaments of state. He will then move to King Edward’s chair where he will put on a sleeveless white garment and be anointed with holy oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Solomon was anointed by Zadok.
The act of consecration is the most sacred part of the service. The King, like Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, has asked that the cameras turn away. This will give him a private moment to reflect on the significance of the events taking place.
We might not be a king or queen, or even support the idea of monarchy in a modern democracy, but the Coronation gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own relationship to God. Firstly, before God, we stand alone and are divested of all worldly goods. We play to an audience of one. We are ultimately accountable to ‘God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth’, not the world’s media, a nation, a boss, customers, or shareholders.
Secondly, all disciples of Jesus are anointed by God, ‘sealed with the Holy Spirit’ (Ephesians 1:13) for a task: to make the invisible God visible by what we do and the way we do it, to show the world there is a better way of being human, and that looks like Jesus, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (Revelation 19:16).