Just a quick post from a short break in Kingston-upon-Thames, S.W. London, visiting with my daughter.
My wife, Hazel, and I are just back from a morning spent viewing the palatial, historic, complex of Henry VIII at Hampton Court, which was followed by a quick run through the maze.
If you love English history, particularly post-reformation, this is a must on any itinerary of London - the excellent headphone guide, accompanied by a map, whisks you around the exhibits in about 2 hours to aid convenience.
Apart from the vast scale of the building, the time-enduring materials of marble, stone and wood, the atmospheric cloistered lawns, and expansive fountained gardens, there are a number of art galleries housing masterpieces and tapestries from the 16th century of significant artistic importance.
I think for me the most wonderful thing was a replica of Henry's crown destroyed in the interregnum by Cromwellian forces. Radiant, yellow gold, bedecked with various jewels, displayed in a shimmering glass case on the balcony above the Chapel Royal. As I mused to think of the history-shaping monarchs and dignitaries that gathered here to worship God, my mind was led to think about the qualities of that King.
Henry VIII, it's well-known, had no less than six women as wives. Two of them Henry beheaded, two of them he divorced, one of them died, and the last, Catherine Parr, survived the ruler who dared defy the pope. The great lifetime anxiety of the august lancastrian Tudor ruler was to establish an English dynasty through the birth of a male son.
In the end-up, Henry sired three-of-a-family, including Mary and Edward, yet it was younger daughter Elizabeth, who proved to be Henry's true successor, and guaranteed dynastic survival for well over 100 years - then the crown passed to the Stuarts and finally, as today, the Germanic House of Hanover-Windsor. Finally splendor, pomp, riches, wealth, pride, anxiety, defiance and divorce, along with what seems a genuine desire for godliness, could not prevent his lineal decay.
Thank God we have a ruler whose realm will never end, a monarch whose monuments will never become museums. We are called to serve and worship the Head once crowned with thorns but now the King of many thrones. There was never any worry about the birth of this male child, foreknown before creation, in the fullness of time revealed, holy, meek, compassionate and faithful to His bride. Henry eventually died but Jesus is risen from the dead. His dominion will advance until it visibly fills the globe and the earth is full of the knowledge and glory of our Lord. Men never shared the rule that the Tudor ruler owned, but through Gospel grace we are called to reign with Him.
Your throne, O God, will last forever ...and He shall reign from this time forth and forever ...and they cast their crowns before the throne ...worthy is the Lamb to receive glory, honor, wisdom, power.