Prior Mackenzie

One of my favourite Beatles songs is Eleanor Rigby, which is about a sad lonely character whom Paul McCartney based upon an elderly neighbour for whom he would go shopping. He also sings about one Father Mackenzie, a clergyman who appears to lose both his faith and his congregation from his mid-1960s church. At Beauly Abbey in the Scots Highlands, I found the grave of not 'Father Mackenzie' but Prior Mackenzie, an altogether more important personage. He died back in 1479 when the role of Prior was one to reckon with. Now, all we know of him is his grave, and even that is damaged. In life, powerful and respected; in death, a metal tourist sign and a decaying tomb.

All clerics are Father Mackenzies; all of us our Eleanor Rigbys, living lives to be forgotten and ignored:

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)

If the Reverend Prior trusted in his own authority, power and piety, his was a life wasted; if he saw through the claims of medieval popery and beheld the sovereign grace of God and his own unworthiness, then he might well be greater now than he was back then. Christ Jesus shares with all who trust in Him His glory and dignity, elevating the lowest folk to the very highest rank in the cosmos- His very own beloved.

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Song of Solomon 2:4