Eight hundred years ago (plus a week or two) King John added his seal to a document which has become iconic to the English people. We know it today as the Magna Carta.
The significance of this moment in 1215 was not obvious at the time. Both sides, king and barons, failed to keep their agreement and new versions of the document were re-issued by later kings. When Shakespeare wrote a play about the life of King John, he didn’t consider the Magna Carta worthy of mention. It’s only in retrospect that we can see the importance of the freedom and rights of the ordinary citizen which Magna Carta has come to symbolise.
Two thousand years ago a man was put to death on a cross. For the Romans he was just one more criminal. For many people then and since his death went noticed and unremarked. But today that cross has become iconic, even to the point of being worn as jewellery. And for those who have realised the significance, the cross is the symbol of freedom for all.
The Rev PAUL COCKBURN
Minister, London Road Methodist Church and Partridge Green Methodist Church
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