Sunday, March 22, 2015

Medieval Cloud of Witnesses

The cloud of witnesses, as described in Hebrews 12, is the huge audience of Christian saints who have died before us but surround us and join us in prayer and worship. Never before have I more strongly felt the presence of this phenomenon as I did today when two of my great loves came together: medieval history and my faith.

I have an almost painful desire to be a participant in the reinterment of Richard III this week, but I have to settle for catching pictures and short video clips online. As I sang, took communion, and worshiped in church this morning, however, I understood that I do have a connection to my fellow Christians in history.

Maybe my mind wasn't exactly where it should have been, because as I was shuffling slowly forward to participate in the Eucharist, I imagined Elizabeth of York. First as a Plantagenet princess, then as a Tudor queen, Elizabeth would have practiced a faith much like my own. A picture of her gliding toward the altar of a soaring cathedral formed in my mind. Her gown would gently brush across the floor and rushes until she would kneel down before the revered bread and wine.

Of course, my imagination quickly expanded this picture to include other people in Elizabeth's life, including her uncle Richard. We may never know this side of heaven what Richard's relationship was with Elizabeth or whether he ordered her brothers killed, but that is part of what makes them so intriguing. I do not have any more answers about Richard than anyone else, though many will claim to know more, but I am excited about this unique opportunity to witness the burial of a medieval monarch. 

Many history enthusiasts will enjoy being a part of Richard's reinterment services though they do not share his faith. While I cannot be there in body, I am certainly there in spirit as I imagine the medieval people that I almost consider friends surrounding me as my prayers join with theirs. 

Loyaulte me lie.

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