By Cameron Brooks
A minister with close ties to the Royal Family addressed the Scottish Parliament this week – three days after the Coronation of King Charles III.
Rev Ken MacKenzie, minister of the Parish of Braemar and Crathie in Aberdeenshire, revealed that he assured His Majesty that he would be the “most prayed for person in all Christendom” two weeks ago.
Members of the Royal Family worship at Crathie Kirk while they are staying at nearby Balmoral Castle – a haven that was adored by the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Mr MacKenzie is a Domestic Chaplain to the Monarch and delivered Time for Reflection at Holyrood which heralds the start of the business week.
The Church of Scotland upholds all those in positions of responsibility in the service of others in prayer.
Addressing MSPs, Mr MacKenzie said: ““In a place where rhetoric matters, let me crave your indulgence by asking a question which is not as rhetorical, nor as grammatically correct, as some might prefer: “What does it feel like to be prayed for?
“I ask this of you who have been elected to the Scottish Parliament, because even in this month of May, in the Year of our Lord 2023, during which another group of nationwide representatives will assemble, as you first did, in a hall just up this street, I cannot think of another Scottish body that will be more often the subject of prayer than this honourable house. What does it feel like to be prayed for?
“This is not the first time that I have asked this question, but being by nature and nurture a Highlander, and still identifying as Invernessian, the last time I dropped this question, I reverted to The Queen’s English. In fact, in true Highland style, I didn’t so much drop the question as drop the question mark.
“Two weeks ago, at the door of Crathie Kirk, pictured left, I took the liberty of assuring one of our congregants that on the day of his upcoming coronation he would almost certainly be the most prayed for person in all of Christendom. Like his mother before him, he seemed rather moved by such a declaration.
“In his much remarked upon book, Religion for Atheists: A non-believer’s guide to the uses of religion, Alain de Botton reflects on the fact that in every flourishing culture and society there has always been room for symbolism and for ceremony.
“He, naturally enough, bemoans the fact that in nearly all instances, ceremony and symbolism seem so intrinsically bound to faith and belief.
“I, some might suggest naturally enough, am not at all surprised that this should be the case.
“As we preachers and parliamentarians know only too well, there are times when words – ordinary words – are not enough.
“In times of trouble or triumph, on the occasion of appointment or disappointment, words matter – but they are not enough.
“It is in part through ceremony and symbolism, and it is in part through prayer, that we mere mortals allow room for mystery and for meaning.
“Blessed are those who know what it is to be kept in the prayers of a nation.”
At the Coronation in Westminster Abbey on Saturday, the Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, pictured above, presented King Charles with an original version of the King James Bible.
He described the historic occasion as deeply spiritual, remarkable and humbling.
Dr Greenshields said: “The Coronation was a positive experience rooted in faith and the example of Jesus, with, it is fair to say, a great deal of pageantry.
“The challenge to His Majesty now is to honour and live out the vows of service and living sacrifice, following the example of Jesus, that he solemnly swore at the Coronation.”