King Edward the Martyr, 5

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Was King Edward’s murder then an unmitigated disaster for the country? Was the land branded by the mark of Cain forever? Perhaps not. Once again, it may help to listen to the 10th century, this time an observation in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: “There has not been among the Angles a worse deed than this was, since first they sought Britain. Men murdered, but God glorified him. He was in life an earthly King. He is now after death a heavenly saint. Now we may understand that men’s wisdom and their devices and counsels are as nought against God’s resolves.”

In other words, as tragic and evil as this crime was, we cannot simply rely on our human standards of justice and understanding. How or why, we don’t know, but what we do know is that Edward was – is – a saint. Edward knew – knows – the love of God. And sinced 979 there has been a new saint in heaven, an intercessor for our land.

The Norman invasion of 1066 brought an end to the identity and integrity of the Anglo-Saxon state, yet England did not disappear. In ways past understanding, England was invigorated by the union of the cultures and peoples, and Britain evolved into a political entity far greater than ever dreamed of by King Alfred the Great’s descendants. Under the Normans, the Old English language became the non-standard dialect of the poor, yet the English language did not vanish; instead, it changed and grew and became the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, and then spread over the entire planet. And in the early 20th century, just as the British political empire was about to begin receding while the English linguistic realm was poised to begin exploding across the Earth, another regicide took place.

The murder of Russia’s royal family and the onset of ruthless Communist rule in 1917 seemed to be the end for the identity and integrity of another historical and political state. But here, too, may be another hidden turning point. For while more Christian martyrs than the world has ever known before were suffering for their faith in Russia, the exodus of Russian refugees brought tremendous vigour to the Orthodox churches and communities throughout the West, including those in English speaking lands. The heart of Russian identity – Holy Orthodoxy – has spread rapidly across the globe through the medium of English, just as the good news of the Christian apostles once spread quickly throughout the Greek speaking lands of the Roman empire. Once again, a brutal, unjustified, criminal murder for which no one was brought to justice may – perhaps – be God’s way of sending forth the power of the Holy Spirit in a fallen world. In any case, surely this we know: there are now new saints in heaven, new intercessors for the Russian land and – dare we hope – for the world.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
and do not return there, but water the earth,
and make it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish what I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
-- Isaiah 55: 8-11

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