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Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king
Tomorrow, for the first time in seventy years, we will see a coronation; and for the first time in nearly a century, a King and Queen will be crowned in Westminster Abbey, where every English and British sovereign has been crowned for just shy of a thousand years.
Shakespeare’s lines reveal the most important element of the service that so many of us will watch is not the crowning, but the anointing. In medieval times, the fact that a monarch (or even a wannabe monarch, there were often several!) had been anointed was used to show they were divinely chosen, that people should not disagree with them or get rid of them.
In fact the anointing is a reminder that being monarch (or indeed any kind of leader) is not a privilege or a right, not to be taken lightly or used for one’s own purposes. It is an awesome responsibility to try and lead a country: a calling, not a possession.
We can of course disagree about the arrangements for governing our country. But while in our constitution we have a monarch, it’s right that Christians pray for her or him, for help and strength and wisdom and patience and compassion. And to pray for all leaders, whether they’re elected or appointed or succeed to their role, whether in church or state or education or business.
We won’t actually see the anointing tomorrow; it’s too intimate, too personal. But the coronation reminds us to pray for the King and Queen and all leaders in whatever walk of life. And to think, all of us, young or old, have a calling from God; tasks and relationships and experiences and opportunities, God offers us. What might yours be?
With prayers and best wishes,
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