A time of new hope
Looking forward to Easter, Rev'd Tom Sander reflects on the momentus events of the month ahead.
As I write this, I am somewhere between London and Peterborough, heading towards Durham for the annual Anglican Chaplains’ Conference. I don’t know about you, but I always become quite pensive and philosophical on a train. Airports stress me out and driving it too intensive; cycling is, of course, the ideal and most Godly mode of transport, but even for me it has its limits. But on the train, as town after town passes by and the journey winds through fields and villages, I think about not only the passage of time, but also of England, of the particularity of this land, its history and its faith.
This year is a profound one in our history. For most of us the Coronation on the 7th of May will be a new experience. The BBC reported recently that ‘the Coronation is largely a religious service’; I laughed out loud at the thought of it. The Coronation is an entirely religious service. It makes the fundamental point from which there is no shrinking: that the monarch is made possible by the church’s ministry of sacramental anointing. The King will be anointed, which means to be ‘set aside’, for a specific purpose: to rule in the hope that under him we may be Godly and quietly governed. For some this rare act of worship is an absolute article of faith, for some the coronation is a cultural hang over tolerated because of a particular English attachment to the traditional and eccentric. Those of you who know me will probably guess that I lean towards the first.
Whatever your personal views, the coronation makes clear the primacy of the Christian faith at the heart of our national life. It is an opportunity for an evangelical call to the values which have defined the flavour of our national life – tolerance, decency, kindness, moderation. Someone once said that tradition should be the living faith of dead people and not the dead faith of living people. For me, The Coronation is an act of living faith, a moment to refresh the hope to which we are called through Jesus Christ, that all people may live together in a unity which is both God’s gift and His will.
And before the events of May, Easter will be upon us with its hope for a new start. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and our recollection of it, is not about memorialising an event from the past. Easter is about encountering again the risen Lord in the here and now. He has not only risen, but he has restored in us the vision of the glory of God, that with him we may also rise and live. My hope and prayer for this Easter is that we all share in the joy of the risen Lord and that this joy is seen once more at the heart of our national life as we focus on the particular call afforded to one, under whom we pray that we may be Godly and quietly governed. There is only one King in heaven, and we are all His subjects.