Sunday, October 25, 2009

26 October: Alfred the Great, KIng of Wessex

Born in 849 at Berkshire, Alfred wished to become a monk. Instead he became king at the death of his father and four older brothers in 871. At this time the Danes controlled the northeast coast of what we call England today, which was called the Danelaw. Alfred was able to defeat the Danes, and as part of the terms of that defeat, the Danish King, Guthrum became a vassal to Jesus Christ, and therefore so did his nobles. Obviously the baptisms that resulted from this conversion may not have been heartfelt, but, because of this conversion, priests and missionaries were allowed in the Danelaw and in Denmark (which at this time included a portion of Sweden), which in time resulted in legitimate heartfelt conversions.

After defeating Guthrum, Alfred devoted his time to rebuilding the kingdom of Wessex, fortifying it against attack, building schools (including Oxford) and libraries. Enamoured of the Torah’s treatment of the poor, Alfred sought to put such protections in his laws as well. He also translated books and fifty of the Psalms into Anglo Saxon.

The laws which Alfred promulgated are based very much on the Old Testament. In addition to his other talents, Alfred also designed the ships used to defeat King Guthrum.

There are many reason for calling Alfred the Great. Among those not listed above was the protection of England from the Vikings and restoring the peace, allowing British and English Christianity to carry on unmolested. Once King Guthrum had converted he received respect from his Christian subjects in the Danelaw, leading to peace there as well. King Alfred was a man who knew the Bible well, and sought to use it in his life, in the laws and in all he did. Would that our politicians would do likewise.

Collect: Heavenly Father, as Alfred rebuilt England and restored the church, he also witnessed to his enemy Guthrum and persuaded him to receive Messiah. Grant that we too, would pray and witness to all the world, whether they be our friends or our enemies. This we ask through Yeshuah who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

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