King Charles III Coronation 6th May 2023

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Fr Darren’s Coronation Weekend Sermon on how all Christians are Servants of God

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of God. Psalm 122

How many of us this morning, when the introduction music of Parry’s, ‘I Was Glad’, started up, felt the hairs on our necks go up?

Because for me, that has always been an anthem that has triggered something about our country. It is something that I am rightly proud of even sometimes when our country makes me not proud of it.

And then many of us yesterday would have been watching the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey live, and at the very beginning again, Parry’s, ‘I Was Glad’. And there, I guarantee, one man was standing up near the Abbey door thinking to himself, breath, breath, it’s all going to be ok.

Some of you would have spotted standing to the left of the king, Bishop Michael, our old Bishop of Hertford, who left us last autumn. He has gone up in the world since and there he was next to the king with a big smile on his face. 

He said to me a few weeks earlier you won’t believe the rehearsal that is going on. He said we are there practising every little bit of it. The king told him ‘If you bishops take me in the wrong direction, then I am going in the wrong direction. It is up to you’.

You can imagine the pressure put on Bishop Michael and the Bishop of Durham, standing on the other side. Because if I do something wrong in this service, well, there are probably about 100 in church and about 50 at home who will ever get to see it.

If you do something wrong at a Coronation, billions will watch it, and it will be back on TV time after time for the next 100 years.

Looking to the Future and the Past

It is weird when you think about it. What we witnessed yesterday was something our great-grandchildren will sit and witness themselves. It will be something that they will look back and think oh, that is how they did that in 2023. It was different to the coronations we have seen since then.

Because looking back is really important, looking back at how people did things in the past is key.

At coronations, we do that. We look back to how things happened in the past. And then we also think about the coronation service yesterday and what will the future hold. For our king, for our royal family, what will it hold for us as a nation?

I couldn’t help but think by the time we get to Prince William’s coronation in many years, I wonder what our country will look like?

Will it be a country that has started to work together? Or will it be a country whose people have become adversarial towards each other, as it seems that we are? Or will it be a country working and learning to work for each other’s needs? To meet the needs of the poor to help our neighbour in distress? 

Or will we be a country that has become more and more selfish, that our needs are more important than those of our neighbour, more important than those we have never met?

Christians Today are Servants of Jesus and our Neighbour

It is hard sometimes because our lives now keep us caught up in ourselves. In looking at who we are. Social media does that every day. It tells you that you are important, and if you want to be special, you should buy this and act in this certain way. You should be just like we want you to be.

But the thing is, as Christians, we are told not to be like that. We are told that we look to a different authority to help us, to guide us, to keep us on the straight and narrow. To give us everything we need to guide us in this life and the next. We are called to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus to keep them fixed on his kingdom and to be his servants here on earth.

In our gospel reading from Luke, Jesus reminded his disciples that power isn’t what gives you authority; it is being a follower of God and Christ. Being one of his disciples and being a disciple that means you are a servant of all.

Yesterday during the coronation service, our king was reminded that he is a servant of all and also made that affirmation to you and me, his people. He would be there to give his life in service as his mother did for the nation and commonwealth and for each one of here.

If we are servants of God and if we are to be called people of the kingdom of heaven, then I think we need to use yesterday as a bit of a mark in the sand. A mark that means we are going to do something different. We are going to start looking at the world differently; we are going to start acting differently.

It is so easy when we leave church on a Sunday to go off, get drawn back into the world around us, and leave Jesus at the door and say, ‘Right lord, see you again at 9.30 next Sunday’.

But Jesus doesn’t want that sort of relationship with us; he does not want a relationship where we visit just once a week. He wants a relationship where he journeys alongside us.

On the Sunday after Easter, we heard again the story of the Emmaus Road, where the disciples walked out of Jerusalem in shock after the crucifixion, and there Jesus went with them. He broke bread with them, and they recognised their Lord in the breaking of bread.

My Challenge to Christians Today

As we leave this church today, I challenge you to look at your lives differently. To not see them as necessarily a member of the community here in Hatfield, the UK, or this world. But to see yourselves as a servant of God. Someone called to serve to love their Lord, to pray to him and seek his will, and to care for those he has given into your keeping.

It will not be easy because, as we know, changing the way we are isn’t easy. Because it is so easy to get into a habit of what we have always done and think, I will keep doing that. Hopefully, someone else will come in and do what I have been called to do.

But there is no saying anymore that someone new will come in to take your place. There is no saying that in 20, 30, or 40 years there will be people sitting in the pews where you are.

St Paul headed out of Jerusalem after his conversion, went around Europe, and converted people to faith. He called them to follow their God, to understand who he is, and to know him through Jesus Christ. He called them to give up what they had and follow him.

Following Jesus means to be in earshot, to be close enough that you can hear his words for you, and to make sure he is there for you when you need him.

I challenge you as you journey out this week. Go out with God to your left and right as your guiding light and someone you want to be with in the week. Someone you are going to listen to and pray with.

Because if God is calling us to be his servants and disciples, then we need to be brave enough to talk about our faith to those we meet.

Someone was brave enough to share their faith with you, and I challenge you to be strong enough to share it with someone else.

Because it’s about people coming to know our Lord is why we are here. We are here to worship him and to ask God to give us the strength to go out and proclaim him.

Yesterday our king left Westminster Abbey to go out to be a servant of God, to go out and care for his people, to meet their needs. To speak up for them.

As you leave this church this morning, I challenge you to do exactly the same, to be a servant of God, to meet the needs of those around you. To proclaim the good news.

Then at the end, when we breathe our last to be received into God’s heavenly kingdom where He says ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into your rest’.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Listen to Parry’s ‘I Was Glad’ in the YouTube link below;
Sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. with the Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus,
the Band of the Royal Military School of Music, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra

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