Am a little bit surprised by how much I got into the Royal Wedding on Friday. We were up for the coverage from 8am (BBC of course. Who would watch a Royal Wedding on ITV??) and by the time Kate left the hotel we were dying with the anticipation of it all. The dress! The crowds! The cheering!
Suddenly I found myself engrossed in deep discussion about the hats in the Abbey, and felt almost genuinely concerned about Sam Cam’s missing headpiece. We ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over the trees flanking the aisle, the confused grumpy little bridesmaid, and the enamoured glances of the couple themselves. With all those cups of tea, we had to time our loo breaks to perfection so as not to miss anything. We waved our little flags, and felt genuinely chuffed that there was not just one balcony kiss but two (two!), and that they rode away in that car with balloons hanging off it.
What’s worse is the fact that I was happy to spend the day (and the following one) watching endless replays of the same story, the same interviews, the same pictures, the same debates. And here’s the big confession: I even happily kicked back to watch the trashy cobbled-together American drama of the Royal love story, overlooking the incongruous American terminology that would usually make me shudder.
I didn’t even feel irritated by the constant interviews in which members of the public bemoaned the state of the world and talked about The Wedding offering a little bit of respite from all that. And – as the headlines flicked between Wedding trivialities (that I lapped up) and the Marrakesh bombing or the Libyan conflict (which suddenly seemed so far removed) – their soppy soundbites event seemed to make a bit more sense.
Putting to one side the inevitable cynical posse who chose to sit this one out, we have just witnessed our whole nation – and a big chunk of the rest of the world – spending a weekend in frenzied flag-waving worship, delighting in the grace of a rags to riches story, celebrating something about love that makes it stronger than the bad stuff and even somehow deals with the past and gives hope for a future, and waxing lyrical about the way that all the street parties have broken down barriers and fostered community .
I could do without the return to work and normality today, but I’m a Christian, right? And surely the Bible is jam-packed with these things that we’re all clearly crying out for: true love, grace, community, and something unquantifiably, magical, life-changing, worship-inspiring. Something that’s more than just a temporary escape from reality. More than a glossy 24-page Royal Wedding Special that gets shoved in a drawer and gathers dust.
I suppose things get dusty over time, problems seem bigger, life seems more normal, and the elation of the moment wears off. But heading off to work, knowing that Royal Wedding fever will seem jarringly at odds with the poverty and injustice that’ll hit me at some point soon, I’m wanting to somehow reconnect with those unseen realities. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Off to work now. The bank holiday sunshine is still lingering so I’ve got a nice 20 minute bike ride to ponder the rest of that psalm and give it some space to really sink in:
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from grey exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise…