7th May 23 – Coronation and the Kingdom of God

7th May 23 – Coronation and the Kingdom of God

You might have noticed something going on this weekend!

I want to give you a bit of a history lesson.  I’ll take you back to 1612, almost 100 years after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  King Henry VIII had broken away from the Catholic church claiming basically that the Pope shouldn’t tell him what to do; he and his son Edward had set up a new church, the Church of England, with the king as its head.  After Edward came Mary, who tried to get rid of the Church of England and return to the Pope, then Elizabeth who went back the other way.  So a century of great turmoil in the church, as Kings and Queens tried to move the church in various directions and imprisoned or even killed anyone who got in their way.

Out of this came various groups of people who were not very happy with the way they were being forced to go.  Elizabeth I, and James I after her, viewed part of their role in ruling the country as ruling its religious aspects; the churches were told in no uncertain terms what to do and say, and doing anything outside what was written down for them was tantamount to treason.  Priests and bishops were licensed by the monarchy and no one could preach without such a license.  We need to realise that this wasn’t about the Old Testament values of the King or Queen being responsible for the spiritual life of the nation, it was a political manoeuvre and about their power over their ‘subjects’.  Christians who disagreed and sought to follow God in other ways were persecuted and some left the country – the Pilgrim Fathers to America, but many to Europe.

Some of these gathered together in Amsterdam; and there, after studying Scripture, the Baptist church began.  One of its leaders was convinced that he needed to return to England and appeal to the King, James I at the time, to stop persecuting those outside the Church of England.  And he wrote this letter:

Hear, O King, and despise not the counsel of the poor, and let their complaints come before thee.  The king is a mortal man and not God: therefore hath no power over the immortal souls of his subjects, to make laws and ordinances for them, and to set spiritual Lords over them… O King, be not seduced by deceivers to sin against God, whom thou oughtest to obey, nor against thy poor subjects who ought and will obey thee in all things with body life and goods, or else let their lives be taken from the earth.  God save the King.

The King promptly put him in prison.

But from that time, religious freedom has been one of the teachings of the Baptist church.  Freedom to seek God in the way we see fit, without coercion or fear.  And that applied to all religions, not just Christianity.  It wasn’t up to the King or any earthly authority to enforce matters of faith, but they were to be obeyed with regard to bodily, earthly life.

It’s just worth remembering, on this coronation weekend.  I’ve seen some Baptists claim that as non-conformists (ie not part of the Church of England) we don’t believe in the monarchy – that’s not strictly true, what we don’t believe in is their right to tell us how to worship God.  We can, and we do, pray for all our leaders and submit to true and just earthly law.

So let us take a moment now to do that, to pray for those in authority and especially for King Charles.  Maybe two or three of you would like to pray aloud.

Read prayer from LICC/fb

Almighty God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, we pray for King Charles at his Coronation.

Thank you for a monarch who publicly describes his faith as deeply-rooted. We ask that his roots in you will grow ever deeper and so be the source of much fruitfulness to your glory.

Thank you for his decades of service on behalf of young people, for his eager championing of housing that nourishes family and community, and for his practical work and passionate advocacy for the protection of your creation, nationally and globally.

Lord, in this new phase of service, may Charles know you and the depth of your love ever more richly. May he look to you for wisdom to know when to speak and when to stay silent, for courage to choose what is right even if it is unpopular, and for your strength and peace in times of pressure and storm.

May he be a source of refreshment and hope wherever he goes, whether to palace or factory, field or office, in this land, in the Commonwealth and beyond.

Where wounds are unhealed between nations and communities, work through him to bring reconciliation. And where friendship already flows, enable him to forge even deeper bonds of trust and cooperation.

Help him, Lord, as the Head of the Church of England, to live and share the truth and beauty of Christ with grace, and to protect the rights of all his citizens to worship freely according to their convictions.

We also pray for Queen Camilla and her hard work for many causes, particularly on behalf of women and children suffering from abuse in the UK and internationally. May her union with Charles be a source of delight and strength for them both. Bring reconciliation and joy in their wider family. And grant them daily refreshment through your Word and the mighty power of your Holy Spirit.

And for your glory may it be.

In the name of Christ.



Almighty God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, hear our prayers, and may your will be done in this nation.  Amen.

Perhaps it is appropriate here to sing the national anthem as we ask God’s blessing on the King.


So, we live in two kingdoms.  The United Kingdom, with King Charles III, and God’s Kingdom.  There’s a few things we know about God’s kingdom: firstly, it’s invisible!  We can see its effects, but not its presence.  John writes, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  Secondly, it’s optional.  If you’re born in the UK you’re classed as the king’s subject, but to be born into the Kingdom you have to choose to submit to the king.  And thirdly, it is great!  It is a kingdom of justice, love, peace, wholeness, and the presence of God.  Isn’t that something we all want?

Let me just pause the kingdom talk there for a moment.  I’ve asked you to bring in some things you would like to exchange.  So I’m going to ask a volunteer now to come up with their item, and we’re going to have a kind of auction.  What item have we got?  Who wants it and what are you offering in exchange?

Why did you want it?  Why was it more important to you than this other thing you are offering?  Same question to both people.


It’s all about priorities.  Which thing was most important to you.  Was it more important to have a tissue or a piece of chocolate?

I want you to think about priorities for a moment.  We haven’t had a chatty service for a few months, so today’s the day.  Turn your chairs around the tables and talk amongst yourselves, there’s paper if you want to write.  I want, from each of you, a list of your priorities, first to last.  Be real.  Think about what you spend your time on, where you put your money, how you make decisions.  You can talk about it or you can keep it to yourself.  Only when you have done that, I want you to talk amongst yourselves as a group and see if you can come up with a list of what you think your priorities should be.


Jesus told a story.

Reading Matt 13:44-46

What is my priority here?  Is it to keep what I have, or to look for something more?  Both these men found something that was really important to them.  It was more important to have a treasure, or a pearl, than to have all the other stuff they already owned.  They recognised how valuable those things were, and that they would be more than repaid for what they had to give up.

And Jesus says, yes there is a cost to being part of the Kingdom.  It involves giving up some things.  We don’t buy our way in, but we are asked to give up things like sin, bad behaviour; to give up relying on our own abilities; sometimes to give up relationships that are unhealthy.  Those early Baptists had to give up their liberty, even sometimes their lives, in acknowledging God as their King.  But those things that we give up are nothing compared to what we gain, if we have our priorities right.

Where does God’s kingdom come in your list of priorities?  We sang, didn’t we, ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God… and all these things shall be added unto you.’  Is that how it works?  Are we seeking, first of all, to submit to God and allow him to rule over us?  That’s the kingdom at work in our lives.  We don’t put our trust in anything else – not our good works, not our social status, not our finances.  None of these can offer what God’s kingdom can offer.  God offers his love and care; he offers provision for his subjects; he offers a community of righteousness and justice; he offers wholeness within ourselves, a relationship with him and ultimately eternal life.  How much more could we ask?

So what would you exchange to be a part of God’s kingdom?  What is he asking you to give up so you can be subject to him and receive his blessings?  What is he asking you to do?

I want to invite you, if you wish, to join me in the words of yesterday’s oath, not to Charles but to Jesus.  The King above all kings; whose heirs are the people of God, the church.  I swear that I will pay true allegiance to you, Jesus Christ, Lord of all, and to your church as your heir and your beloved, so help me God…

And if we seek his kingdom for ourselves, because he offers what is good for us, should we not seek to extend that kingdom for the sake of other people?  To bring to them, too, provision, wholeness, relationship?  Where is that on our list of priorities?  Where does serving come into our lives?  As Christians we have pledged allegiance to Jesus our King; a king who offers life to all people, who wants others to come into his kingdom.  As church members we pledged allegiance to his church, to serve him in this particular place.  Is that on your list?

What is important to you?

I’ll leave it there.  Let us pray.

Lord, would you reveal to us the glories of your kingdom.  Awaken in us that desire for you above all the things of this world.  Where the earthly kings are unjust may we know your justice; where they seek power may we know your humility and love; where they are powerless to save help us to trust in your salvation.  Give us the grace and strength to live in obedience to you, and as part of your kingdom may we know your care and the truth of your promises.  Through your Holy Spirit working in us and in the world would you build your kingdom on earth.  In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and King.  Amen.