3rd May 2023

A coronation is a mercifully rare event in this country and it is causing many of us to reflect on the meaning of a king and our relationship to the monarchy.

We often use the idea of a king, and his relationship to his subjects, as a metaphor for our relationship with God and also for the nature of Jesus. Here are a few of the several hundred references to king to be found in Songs of Fellowship.

Jesus is Lord of all the earth, He is the King of creation.

And our hearts confess Him King of glory now.

High King of heaven, Thou heaven’s bright Sun …

Give Him praise forever more, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Lord and father, king for ever …

Despite these enthusiastic words, Jesus made clear to Pilate that our conventional thinking about kings and subjects is not the way to think about the kingdom or kingship of Jesus. And the coronation reminds us that the idea of a king being “all powerful” is very dated in this part of the world. Furthermore, thinking of a king tends to bring with it feelings of remoteness. The new king is distant both physically and socially from the vast majority of his subjects.

So is there anything useful that the modern Christian can find in the notion of a king?

I was surprised and delighted by the answer David Lammy gave to Helen Harrison’s question on Any Questions last week. Helen asked if we should all be glued to the TV to watch the coronation or find something better to do and the chair of the show was obviously hoping for a few republican soundbites from the labour member of the panel. However, David answered by telling a story of the Tottenham riots of 2011 that were so devastating in his London constituency. In the aftermath he took sympathetic calls from many of those in power who then came to visit the area. Prince Charles (as he then was) came five times and was able to use the resources of the Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s Foundation to support the work that was needed to rebuild a broken community.

Perhaps that is a picture we can use. A king that gets alongside us, supporting, urging and affirming. A king of love.

Nick Parsons