After more than 70 years of our late Queen's reign, King Charles III will be crowned this month. A lot has happened since 1953 when the glamour of the 26 year old Queen's coronation took the post-war world by storm and half the population of the UK watched - many on the new 12 inch black and white TV sets.
A fresh and youthful dynamic prevailed, and the event marked the beginning of a new age of united hope with a national service of worship at the centre of the coronation. The country honoured the sovereign as anointed by God.
Enter 2023. The international scene is darker. National society has no common focus, the domestic economy is sluggish, authority is not automatically respected, Christian worship is an anachronism for many and the Bible's lifestyle values are derided.
"Why should the Trinitarian God take precedence in a multifaith (or no faith) society?", say some.
"What are we celebrating?", ask others. The mystique of majesty has been blown away by the tell-all media. The fairy-tale image of royalty has been badly tarnished, and hope, if it exists, is more in personal imaginations than in a united national consciousness.
What is the Christian response? The Bible has some very positive answers. Written in a time when rulers were anti-Christian, and when believers were martyred for their faith, the words ring out loudly, "Honour the King" (1 Peter 2:17). Why? "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1-2)
Whatever people think, King Charles will be crowned according to God's will. The coronation anointing is the sign of God's appointment and we are to honour the King because God has anointed him. But the weight of regal responsibility is huge and can only be borne with God's help.
That is why we shout and sing, "God save the King!". Like the rest of us, only God can save the King from his enemies, from those who do not understand God's Word, from inclinations not authorised by God, from Satan's lies and from hell itself.
But in another way, King Charles is not like the rest of us. The coronation declares him to be king, and establishes that we are subject to him. Although the idea of being under authority is not popular these days, it is neccessary to protect society. As the late Prince Philip once said, "The power of the monarchy lies not in the power that it holds, but in the power it denies to others".
That is why we are commanded to pray for kings and all in authority so that national life will be a good experience and 'gospel accessible' (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
God save the King? Yes! That must be our devoted, loyal, Christian prayer! As we pray throughout King Charles' reign, who knows how God may use His servant for blessing!