“Where am I?” gasped Philip, as he awoke to find himself in a simple but elegant room with a beamed ceiling. The door opened, and in came a sprightly lady with shining eyes, he guessed in her forties, with tea on a tray.
“You’ll find out soon enough, young man,” she smiled, “he’ll be round our way later today. Although,” and at this point her eyes began to twinkle, “it seems as if he’s everywhere. Here, enjoy your tea, then after breakfast you can go outside and look around. I’m Alice, by the way. Remember me?” Hmm… that twinkle seemed familiar.
Go outside? And then the penny dropped. He could move his legs again, and all the lesions that had plagued his tortured body were gone.
It seemed he was staying at a guest house of sorts. Over a sumptuous feast of fruits and cereals, he remembered a gracious elderly lady called Alice at a church he’d belonged to…
With a map in hand, Philip ventured into the street to be greeted by a feast of flowers and shrubs. As many were in bloom, he guessed it must be May. The houses were arranged in groups, overlooking courtyards; they were designed with simple elegance, with patterns in brick, stone and wood. In one of these, a dark-skinned man in blue overalls was talking to a girl wearing a grass skirt, who was holding a wooden glider. Seeing Philip’s curious glances, they invited him to join them, and the man said to him,
“How d’you do! I’m Leroy. Don’t you think Adiloa’s made a magnificent flying machine? All her own work, with a few tips from me…” Philip suddenly noticed the shine in both his and the girl’s eyes, how ‘at home’ he felt, and how the very act of drawing breath was life-giving, as if he was in the Alps.
And then he turned his head. Behind and above him was the most magnificent golden palace, which exuded a light that amplified the tiniest detail of all he surveyed.
“Wow!!” he exclaimed, “What a wonderful place to live! Whose is it?”
“It belongs to the King of Kings, of course!” answered Adiloa. “Except,” added Leroy, “all of us live in the palace grounds. So, in a sense, it’s our palace, too.”
As Philip gazed beyond the courtyard, he understood. The palace gardens extended to those of the courtyard. All around, in a vast array above and below, were similar structures. “But, doesn’t the king mind not having walls around his home?” he asked.
“Of course not!” laughed Leroy. “Every word we say, every act we perform, gives us a way to praise him. And who wouldn’t want to do that! He’s amongst us as one who serves.”
As if on cue, a gong sounded. Suddenly, the air was filled with a symphony of rich harmonies provided by harps, trumpets, tubular bells, wind instruments, voices. As the King’s carriage came into view, the music softened to allow a sweet soprano voice to emerge, singing,
“Let us praise our glorious king…”
“Oh My, Philip, you look as if you’ve had some sweet dreams! You’ve woken up just in time to watch the Coronation” beamed Nurse Rachel. At first, Philip felt disappointed to have come ‘back down to earth’.
But, as Philip watched the pageant, he was struck by the parallels between his dream and what unfolded. There was the greeting given by choirboy Samuel Strachan,
‘Your Majesty, as children of the kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of kings.’ To which King Charles replied,
‘In his name and after his example I come not to be served but to serve.’
There was Hubert Parry’s magnificent arrangement of Psalm 122, ‘I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord.’ Philip reflected that, in his dream, he’d been to ‘the house of the Lord’, and longed to return. Death now held no fear for him!
Philip wept as he listened to the canticle, ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’. He knew enough to understand its meaning – that we need the Holy Spirit in order for anything to have real value in God’s kingdom. And King Charles was humbly asking this for himself. That’s why he allowed himself to be stripped of his royal robes before being anointed with holy oil.
There followed Handel’s anthem, “Zadok the Priest,” which conveyed in majestic tones the glory of King Solomon’s anointing in ancient Israel.
The sheer colourful splendour of the abbey reminded Philip of the palace he had seen earlier that morning. The gorgeous costumes of the participants reminded him of the depictions in Exodus of the priests’ robes, designed ‘for beauty and for glory’.
As the service continued, Philip was enthralled. The Te Deum, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Make a Joyful Noise’, and much more…
Everybody knows King Charles is flawed. The Coronation was a magnificently conducted British state occasion, but it took place within an ailing realm very different from the Kingdom of Heaven. Nevertheless, I am thrilled that King Charles has set out his stall to follow the King of Kings, to serve his people, and to do so in with God’s anointing in the strength endowed by the Holy Spirit.
Nobody expects Charles to be a perfect sovereign. But, as Archbishop Justin Welby implied in his sermon, it’s wonderful that he’s set out his stall to uphold God’s values and to be truly a ‘servant King’. Just as, in a Christian marriage ceremony, husband and wife commit to promises that will bind them together, I believe Charles has committed himself to be the godly ruler that Britain so urgently needs today. God save our gracious King!
4 thoughts on “Saturday 6th May 2023 – An Adventure”
What a lovely tiring together of heaven and pictures of that heaven and earth in the coronation. We need to hold the king in ou prayers.
What a brilliant comparison between our servant God and servant king. Everything coming together in our earthly life and spiritual life. Praise God and long live the King.
Your analogies are wonderful John, surely it’s time for another book, about Philip?