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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hanging on by a Thread

Queen Elizabeth II Riding Along in the Coronation Coach Wearing Crown and Carrying Orb
Queen Elizabeth II Riding Along in the Coronation Coach Wearing Crown and Carrying Orb

In our week studying 1950s culture, the kids watched a YouTube program about Queen Elizabeth's coronation, which took place in June, 1953. In preparation for this, I found the text of the coronation liturgy. I was astounded to realize that the coronation ceremony was in fact a church service. Of course, I should have known this, but I forgot that it would be so. Naturally, the Queen is the head of the Church of England, so it stands to reason that she would take her crown in obedience to God.

The coronation liturgy includes selections from Psalm 122, Psalm 84, Psalm 141, Matthew 22, I Kings 1, Matthew 11:28, John 3:16, I Timothy 1:15, I John 2:1, and Psalm 34:8 as well as hymns, creeds, confessions, and other prayers.

I cannot know if the speakers of the liturgy, including the Queen, were sincere in their belief, and I don't argue for a government-sponsored church. But I know that the culture accepted the ceremony and did not rebel against the use of Scripture and prayer to crown their Queen. The culture acknowledged God. Looking over the liturgy, I wondered, what will Charles do if he takes the throne? Will he go through the coronation with this liturgy?

Just days later, I saw this interview with Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in my local newspaper and had my answer. In the interview, he was asked, "You are a visiting lecturer at Oxford. Are you surprised by how few people actually attend church in England, considering the great Christian leaders and authors who once lived there? And what has your experience at Oxford been?" His answer:
"It's very sad. England and Europe are on their way out. There's no way their cultures will survive. It looks to me that the domination of Islam will take over. England and France are hanging on by a thread. The sharia laws already have been introduced in England. If Charles gets on the throne, he has said he won't be the defender of the faith; he will be the defender of the faiths." (My emphasis)

There is much to criticize in past generations, for sin has stained every age. It isn't that things were perfect in the 1950s. Certainly our study this week of African-Americans' struggle for civil rights reminds us that our culture still committed many sins. But if we've conquered those sins, we've traded them in for others: abortion, co-habitation, divorce, sexual promiscuity.

But the consequences to our culture of denying Christ must be far greater than even the consequences to our culture for sins against each other. For Christ redeems us and without Him we remain in our sin, without hope.

The Orb with the Cross was delivered to the Queen's right hand by the Archbishop, saying:
Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.

And earlier in the ceremony, she received the Bible as the Archbishop spoke:
Our gracious Queen: to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with the Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.

We will stand before Christ not as a culture, however, but as individuals. Perhaps Christians are relying too much on culture to affirm our beliefs. If so, that day is behind us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
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