Two contrasting news stories have caught my eye this week.
On the one hand there is of course the royal wedding, and it’s hard not to tune onto the TV to hear yet another story about what’s going to be happening tomorrow. We have even got to the stage where reporters are interviewing other reporters about their coverage. But notwithstanding all the hype and the wall-to-wall coverage I have to say I am looking forward to tomorrow’s big day.
On the other hand there is the rather bizarre story from the United States where it appears Barack Obama has had to produce his birth certificate to prove to the world he was born on American soil and therefore eligible to be president. It all sounds a rather silly, over the top kind of event that could only happen over there – but it seems to me it raises an important point about the difference between a monarchy and a presidency. With the monarchy you know where you stand. There is no question of the origin of the Queen or her family, and even Kate Middleton’s own pedigree has been extensively investigated. With a presidency, it always seems to me, there is always a bit of an issue of whether the person you elect really is the person he claims to be. I remember teaching in Austria with pictures of then president Kurt Waldheim in every classroom, which was a bit difficult considering all the rumours about his military service during the Second World War.
Of course the monarchy is not perfect. It is possible for traditions to harden, to become inflexible and out of steps with the time (just look at the Church of England if you want an example!). But it seems that William and Kate represent a renewal and a step forward for the institution, and they fully deserve our prayers:
– that they would be found worthy of the responsibility placed upon their shoulders as the future King and Queen of England.
– that they would keep their marriage vows and be an example of life-long faithfulness to one another.
– that the faith they profess tomorrow would be a reality for them, and they would know the guidance of the Holy Spirit day by day.
Let’s all hold them in our prayers and also remember those who are leading this act of worship tomorrow. After all, it’s not every day you have a church service broadcast to 2 billion people.