The greatest authority through the humblest of service

Published: 9th April 2023

For the first time in most of our lifetimes, Easter this year will be celebrated with a king on the throne of our country. Not only that, but on the twenty-eighth day of the fifty days of Easter (Saturday, 6th May) His Majesty King Charles III will be crowned as monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. During the coming four weeks, I hope that people across our country will be praying for King Charles as he prepares for that great event. We do not as yet know the exact wording of the Coronation service, but we can be sure that, as has been the case through the Image for the Orb (Royal Collection Trust)centuries of our history, it will make clear that the King’s authority, great as it is, is subject to the higher authority of God the ruler of all. When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, the Archbishop delivered to her the Orb (a golden sphere representing the world on which a cross is mounted), and spoke these words: ‘Receive this orb set under the cross and remember that the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ our Redeemer.’

The resurrection of Jesus Christ, which his people joyfully celebrate at Easter, is the story of the vindication of one who exercised the greatest authority through the humblest of service. As such, it sets the best possible pattern for Charles our King at the outset of his reign. But it also speaks to all in our world and our society who are called to govern, to show leadership, to shape public opinion, to influence others. Too often our reality is otherwise: we see those in power trying to crush opposition, to silence dissent, or to attack those whose views differ from theirs. However, Easter shows us that the final triumph lies with one who followed a very different way – the way of the cross, the way of service, humility and love. This is a lesson which we need to learn again in every generation, and this prayer from the Church of England repeats it on behalf of our monarch and us all:

‘Sovereign God, who called King Charles to be a ruler among his people: give him grace to be their servant; and help us, following our Saviour Christ in the path of humble service, to see God’s kingdom set forward on earth and to enjoy its fulness in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’

Rt Revd Michael Ipgrave
Bishop of Lichfield

Alonger version of this article can be found on the Express/Sunday Express website.

Page last updated: Sunday 9th April 2023 6:56 PM
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