Sermon for the Celebration of The Coronation

Sermon at the special service on Sark to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III

“In his name and after his example I come not to be served, but to serve”

These were the very first words spoken by King Charles yesterday, in response to a welcome from a child, one of the choristers.

For me, and I am sure this was a deliberate choice of the King, it set the tone for the whole service. For all the pomp and majesty, tradition and welcome inclusion of people of all faiths, it was a service that reflected the King’s deep faith, like The Queen before him, and like her, his desire to serve his country.

The most poignant moment, perhaps, was when, stripped of all his regalia and standing in a simple shirt, masked from public view, he was anointed and blessed with  oil which had been created using olives harvested from two groves on the Mount of Olives at the Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the Monastery of the Ascension. The Monastery of Mary Magdalene is also the burial place of His Majesty’s grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece.

This moment was between King and God alone, thus the masking from sight as the King was set aside and consecrated for service of his God and his country.

King Charles has made service a focus of the whole coronation weekend, with time set aside for volunteers, other people who serve. His first words set the context, that Jesus came to this earth, with all the power and might of God available for him to reign in any way he wished, with as much power as he wished, but instead, Jesus chose to serve, to heal, to teach, and above all to show perfect love. It is why Christians call Jesus the King of Love, it is why he said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love others, as you love yourself.

When those two rules are made the priority of life, then serving others becomes a natural consequence. If you love others, not just the romantic love we often celebrate, but love that means you truly care for others, want what is best for them, are willing to sacrifice time and effort on their behalf, then you learn to serve. Some people might not call that sort of caring for others love, but it is, and  loving others in this way is a reflection of the love God gifts each one of us with, whether we recognise that or not.

And implicit in that, as Jesus added, is the need for self-care, for loving and respecting the person you are, as God loves you, for without that care of yourself, you cannot fully love and serve others.

Part of the joy of Sark, the sense of community that we enjoy here, is that so many people on this island do serve in that way. So many people who volunteer their time and effort for the good of others, for the good of the environment, for the future of this special and unique place, from our emergency services and CFR’s to our government. It is so easy to forget, and easier to criticise those who serve , in the same way, I’m sure, in a much larger scale, King Charles is criticised for how he serves and has served for many years.

And so, in this service, not only do we celebrate our new King, but as he would have wished, we also celebrate all those who contribute to caring for our community, its individuals and for our environment. Some are paid, yet do far more than the basic job they are employed in, and many, many volunteer. I am not going to name any, because I’m sure to miss some, but amongst you all here, there are many, and many not here today too. Let us always be thankful for the service they all offer, and let their service inspire us to each to do more too, so that our community grows closer together and shines as a caring community as an example to others as much as our beautiful environment inspires others too.

And my hope, for you all, that is that you might recognise, in that love and care others show for you, something of the image of God’s love that he created in each one of us, some image of the King of Love himself.

“In his name and after his example I come not to be served, but to serve” Those words of our new King are certainly words I too would aspire to, I hope and pray that they will be for you too.