But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
The Gospel, and even the Coronation remind us if we are faithful in reading Holy Scripture and being attentive to the influence of God, then we have something good to proclaim! And that proclamation is that we have been called out of the shadows and darkness of this world to live in and by light of Christ.
Like bejewelled crowns upon our heads is the anointed life we have been given by God through our baptism. Like emeralds, rubies and diamonds, we have been mined out of God’s holy mountain and we are to sparkle amongst the pewter and dull hard metals of this world. Not being privileged above any other person. But having within us a treasure which is God, who illumines our path, who we are and how we relate to and shine in the world.
St Paul is correct: we are holy people, even though we know to be honest about our imperfections. We are a chosen race but that doesn’t rely upon where we have been born, borders, or passports, but that we have been delivered through the waters of baptism to be a people defined by our relationship with Christ to be with and for one another and defenders God’s world.
We are a royal priesthood, though clothed in modest garments, we are from humble birth (all of us), yet given through God in Jesus the opportunity to speak to all powers and authorities of this world, God’s justice, mercy and truth.
We recall through the coronation, that we are a people with an heritage, which is complex, sometimes shameful yet being worked out. We are a people with an identity which if forged in Christ is worthy – but most of all, because of our life in God, because of our anointed baptism: we are a people who will always have a future.
The Gospel writer reminds us: do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places.
Forget about rooms, and mansions, forget about territories and dominions. John reminds us that is space aplenty and a place for you, for me, for us in God. That place is recalled here and now, a place from which no-one and nothing is excluded.
2,000 people went to the Abbey yesterday to the coronation and I suspect a billion or so tuned in on the television and wireless radio. Yet every person who has ever been created and who will be – is invited and given a front row seat to the feast which is Christ’s offering of himself into our lives.
I have had a front row seat since I was 8 years old, I have sat just two seats down from the virgin Mary all of my life, and next to me is Judas, a chap called Malcolm, and a lady called Esme who has a faint whiff of lavender about her.
You see. We are a chosen people, before we chose God. We are a called people, before we said yes to God. And all that God wants us to celebrate is that we, conscious of God’s reality and kingdom, are willing to be influenced by being guests at the table of the King of Kings, being able to sup and share at the banquet of the lamb alongside the king and queen of England, as much as being alongside Aminata or Margaret, or Myles.
St Paul writes,
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy
This is our thanksgiving, we are a people with a proclamation of our own, we are a people who belong to God and to each other in Christ Jesus our King and head of the Church. This is the King’s thanksgiving as it is mine, or yours. For, we have all been lost, but we are all destined to be found, if only we can reorientate ourselves towards that truth which is God.
The Coronation might be of some concern to some… and in that matter I am reminded of Tennyson’s poem:
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Yesterday the not to yield was – Christ being explicitly reintroduced into the heart of the King and for a moment into our national hearing. That is what’s not popular.. that for a moment power explicitly had to listen to.. words of justice, words of expectation and what it is to be fully enrobed and clothed with God in our public life and conversation. That will never be popular, because it takes away from us our selfish powers and says our King’s heart has been conquered to proclaim Christ in word and deed.
Our acclimation of him suggests that we want that for our King, and if we want that for our king, by implication we must want it for ourselves. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. This is why we cry God save the King. As he belongs to God’s Way so do we. And let us pray for God’s Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen each of us so that we can proclaim the mighty acts of him who has brought us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Alleluia Christ is Risen: