Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20 – 100 Shillings

It means much to the British that those who defend others are by their Monarch defended.

With a surreal rustling of her golden robes upon the Abbey floor, the Queen was making her way to the Altar once again. Still bare-headed, she was bringing the Jewelled Sword back to the Lord.

The Sword is made of steel, etched in blue and gold, with a hilt of gold and with diamonds, rubies and emeralds on the pommel.

It lay flat and glittering upon the open palms of her upturned hands; her concentration seemed divine and fierce and childlike, all at the same moment. A Monarch, a Queen, a woman . . . a young woman . . . covered head to foot in a coat of silk, each thread wrapped in gold, bearing the Sword of the Offering, the Monarch’s personal sword, back to the Altar of God.

It could not remain there. The Marquess of Salisbury stepped forward once more. In his hand was an embroidered bag, tied tight. In it were 100 newly minted shillings, for the Sword had to be redeemed. He who had born the Sword of State now bore the Queen’s own Sword. He would, according to royal tradition, “carry it naked before her Majesty during the rest of the solemnity. The 100 shillings would become an everlasting treasure of those who serve Abbey Westminster.

Her Sword, presented to her from the Altar of God, at the hand of God’s representative. Her Sword, returned by her to the Altar of God, in tunic of humility and garments of majesty, but with uncovered head. Her sword, redeemed by the State that it might stand guard beside her, unsheathed.

In a culture many cannot quite know, including many who live within it, God-given sovereignty is guarded by those whom the Crown will guard. It is a bit of a dance, but we understand. It was as if the Marquess was speaking on behalf of a nation . . . “We will protect what God has given and what our Queen has surrendered . . . we will watch and guard the gift of God.” Which one of us in Cor Unum can help but think, “That would work very well in the Body of Christ! Every gift and power of God upon the Altar of God; every one among us redeeming the honor of the other, bearing unsheathed defense of the majesty of all.”

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