We help you give and we strengthen the causes you give to

Generosity is our cause

Submenu title



The Coronation: baffling but beautiful (just like generosity)

glen scrivener Glen Scrivener
5 min

The mundane and mysterious coronation

King Charles’ coronation has fused ancient and modern in the most startling way. As historian Tom Holland has written, it’s like “visiting a zoo, and finding a Triceratops in one of the enclosures.” On one hand, it’s King Charles' coronation public holiday with its picnics and concerts. On the other hand we’ve been transported to another time—another civilisation—with the ceremonies and regalia, the choreography and liturgy, the many songs and languages that wash over us. But I’d say we need both: the mundane and mysterious. Because life is both.

The world is cathedral-like

If you ask me, life is a lot like Westminster Abbey where the coronation was held. The world is cathedral-like: beautiful and fantastical; magnificent and absurd. There are sights to take your breath away and oddities to baffle you.

We have all lived our lives within this grand, old cathedral called Planet Earth. And most of the time we wander through, gazing downwards, shuffling along, unsure quite what we should be doing or how it all fits together. This is how Christians can see the world and the church. The world is like a cathedral: beautiful and baffling. The church is like the service: equally bizarre but the kind of bizarre that hums like a tuning fork - resonant with truth and meaning. 

What resonates

We might think we want church to be “modern”, “contemporary”, and “culturally relevant for the 21st century.” All those things have their place. But the world we inhabit is like that baffling old cathedral and the deepest hunger of our hearts is not for rational explanation or clear instruction. We were made for God, a consuming fire of holy love. And, at the same time, we know that we are frail and failing mortals, powerless and perishing.

Yet this is why King Charles’ coronation has had the ability to connect, even in all its strangeness. Our “undoubted King” was declared to the four corners of the earth and yet he was received in the Abbey by a child, reminding him of the true King:

Your Majesty, as children of the Kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of Kings. Charles responds, “In his name, and after his example, I come not to be served but to serve.” 

A servant king

This phrase from Mark 10:45 was used four times during the coronation. And it was embodied at many points, none more poignantly than when he was stripped down for his anointing. As the choir sang “King live forever”, hundreds of millions of people got to see him in his undershirt. But it wasn’t only the stripping down that revealed his weakness. When the robes and regalia were piled onto him, no-one could fail to see the dichotomy. A 74-year-old man was being loaded with emblems of rule and riches far beyond anything a human could bear.

rule and riches

When Elizabeth was so crowned 70 years ago it moved CS Lewis to remark:

"The pressing of that huge, heavy crown on that small, young head becomes a sort of symbol of the situation of humanity itself: humanity called by God to be his vice-regent and high priest on earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if he said, “In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding.” …One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendor."

Here is the deepest explanation for the coronation’s resonance. Of course there’s something ridiculous about the pomp and circumstance. Of course the whole nation is Googling “how much will King Charles’ coronation cost?” Of course there’s anti-royal sentiment. Of course we find it absurd to enthrone a mere man and sing of his eternal reign! But it’s the kind of absurd that resonates with the human condition. Here we all are — frail, failing and finite! And yet God has placed eternity in our hearts. We are Charles! We are the very same creatures to whom God has said “Rule” (Genesis 1) and “To dust you will return” (Genesis 3). On our grey or greying heads an impossibly weighty crown has been placed — and who is sufficient for these things?

The generous king

This is why the coronation (and the church, and the world!) revolves around Jesus. He is the answer to this dichotomy. As the Second Adam—the good Adam—he is the true and rightful King. It’s his generous love that bridges the divide. As the Archbishop said in his sermon, Jesus is the “God [who gives] all things for our sake, even his own life. His throne was a Cross. His crown was made of thorns. His regalia were the wounds that pierced his body.” As our true King, Jesus has represented his people in all our frailty and failures. He bore our sin and died our death, rising again to pour out his Spirit on all who come to him in faith — whether king or commoner.

bridge divide

This is the strange message at the heart of the cathedral and when you surrender to it you become captive to the deepest truth of the world: the grace of Jesus Christ. 

You and I are like Charles. In ourselves we are utterly unworthy. Yet in Christ we are children of the Kingdom, anointed by the Spirit, enthroned by the Son. Of course we are frail and failing. Of course it’s all overblown and a ridiculous amount has been spent on us (the blood of Jesus no less!). Nevertheless we are invited into the ultimate Royal Family and now we are caught up in a kingdom of self-giving love. We have been saved through the generosity of Jesus and we have been saved for the generosity of Jesus, raised up by the Servant King to reign with him in grace. With Christ’s own anointing we gladly say what Charles says: “In his name, and after his example, I come not to be served but to serve.” It’s utterly absurd. Completely beautiful. 

generosity of jesus

For more articles like this sign up to Generous, Stewardship’s monthly newsletter for news, updates and content on generosity and giving.

Generous Newsletter

Monthly emails for supporters. Inspiration, practical tools and guidance to support the causes you love in more meaningful ways. 

Profile image of Glen Scrivener
Written by

Glen Scrivener

Glen Scrivener is an ordained Church of England minister and evangelist who preaches Christ through writing, speaking, and online media. He directs the evangelistic ministry Speak Life. Originally from Australia, Glen now lives with his wife, Emma, and two children in England, and they belong to All Souls Eastbourne. He is the author of several books, including The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality (The Good Book Company, 2022) and 3-2-1: The Story of God, the World, and You (10Publishing, 2014).