I hadn't planned on watching the Queen's funeral, but this morning I changed my mind.
I didn't turn on the TV until a little past 7. By then the funeral was over. And so, for the next half hour, I watched the funeral procession. It was quite a sight to see. The British are masters of royal pageantry and it showed as Queen Elizabeth's coffin made it's way from Westminster Abbey, through the heart of London, and finally to Windsor Castle.
Watching the event as it unfolded live brought back memories for me. For nearly two-and-a-half years I lived in Great Britain. From March 1984 until August 1986, I served at RAF Greenham Common and RAF Welford. During my time in England, I made numerous trips to London. Once, I even made my way to Buckingham Palace. (Mind you, I never set as much as a foot inside.)
As I look back now on those days, I regret that there were several sites I didn't bother to visit. I'm sorry that I didn't go to the British Museum, not even once. And, I'm also sorry that I never took the time to tour Windsor Castle, especially given the fact that it was a mere forty miles from my base.
The British aren't the only masters of pageantry. Lest we forget, the Nazis were as well. Hitler, and his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, used enormous rallies to impress the German populace with the might of what became the Third Reich.
The Romans were the ancient masters of processions and pageantry. So much so that the Apostle Paul wrote about this in two of his epistles. He did so as a way of depicting the Gospel in action.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote about the most stupendous victory celebration in all history. He declares that through His Son, Jesus the Christ, God
disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to shame, by triumphing over them in Him.
However, Paul's most striking use of a Roman conqueror's parade is found in Second Corinthians:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
What's so remarkable about this? I'll step aside and let a Biblical scholar explain.
All this leads back to Good Friday and what is known as the Via Dolorosa. Little did the Roman centurion realize that when he led Christ through the streets of Jerusalem to Mount Calvary, he was leading the King to His throne.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
In John's account of the Gospel, Jesus' crucifixion is also His coronation. From the cross, the King of kings and the Lord of lords reveals the utterly alien and unfathomable glory of God.
We, now, are His eternally grateful captives.