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Monday, 23 March 2015
Not much of a television buff, but hey, give me some good old British pomp and ceremony and I can hardly budge from the couch.
Last night we had it in spades, as they say. Such an extraordinary spectacle – the solemn conveying of the bones of the 500-years-dead Richard III to his new place of burial in Leicester cathedral. Accompanied by two knights in shining armour. Amazing.
Extraordinary when they found his skeleton under a car park a few years ago. Even more extraordinary to have such excitement over the bones of a monarch reputed to be a child-killer (the little princes in the Tower of London), deformed and in Shakespeare’s play, exuding evil intent.
But Richard has his supporters. The skeleton revealed that although he had scoliosis, his spine had twisted laterally and would never have given him the hunch he was depicted as having. And contrary to Shakespeare’s account, he had two healthy arms, neither withered.
So if reports of his physical appearance were so wrong, what about the reports of his character?
I learned that despite his short two years in power, Richard enacted more laws than Elizabeth I throughout her reign. One of which is the ‘bail’ law which is still extant.
History hands down a muddle sometimes. Factions form on opposite sides of a controversial figure. Facts can be scarce, fabricated, or lost.
That’s what is so extraordinary about Jesus. There are multiple sources from 2000 years ago attesting that the man Jesus lived. Just as many who chronicled his gruesome death. There were hundreds, thousands of witnesses to his miracles, and as many again who met him in his resurrected form.
And millions who have met him since. We don’t know much about his appearance, but we know a lot about his values, his character, his love, his power.
People are queuing in Leicester to see the coffin holding the bones of Richard III, a coffin made by one of his descendants. They are queuing to pay their respects, or out of curiosity, or simply to be a part of this rather weird and quirky bit of history.
The respect being shown for those old bones reveals some of what it is to be human. It reveals a spark of the divine which is hidden in each one of us. A spark which comes from God himself.
Incredible that he has accorded human beings such honour, to partner with him in helping to establish his Kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven. Amazing that he accords us such undeserved respect.
Such love can only be reciprocated with a humble and a grateful heart. Don’t you think?