Today we Commemorate an Anglo-Saxon king whose inclusion in the Church Calendar is relatively recent. The 1901 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England does not include him, nor does the 1918 BCP of the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada. The 1962 BCP of the Anglican Church of Canada does include Alfred the Great who died in 899. Why remember him? Alfred was in real life what King Arthur was to become in fantasy, a model Christian King.

Alfred lived when much of Britain was neither Christian nor civilized. He knew the terror of mortal sickness, invasion, and the death of loved ones. However from the monks of Wessex and from teachers in Rome he learned a gentler, kinder, nobler way of life. In 871, at age 22, he became king of the West Saxons and for seven years he bravely led his people in battles against the invading Danes. Finally victory came and for the next 20 years Wessex enjoyed a renaissance period both politically and religiously. For example, Alfred organized a system of national education, personally translating Latin writings into Anglo-Saxon to meet the people’s growing literacy.

Praise God, who inspired and enabled Alfred the Great.

Bible Reading: 1 King 3: 6-14, Luke 6:43-49