Platinum Jubilee – June 5th 2022 – Rev Alison Way
Joshua 1:1-9 and Luke 22:24-30
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
At the last coffee morning, I wandered around asking the question – What do you most admire about her Majesty the Queen? I got over 40 answers. At one end of the spectrum, I got answers like
her crown, tiaras and sparkly jewels,
her outfits and her smile,
her humanity displayed in evident love of horses and of dogs
And her love of the countryside
At the other end of the spectrum, people produced a selection of daunting characteristics which we would aspire to model in our lives too.
Her loyalty (this was the thing most repeatedly said!) and commitment
Her strength of character and resolve
Her integrity and steadfastness
Her devotion to our country and dedicated service
Her fortitude and resilience
A number reflected on her longevity and the example she sets after a record breaking 70 years of reigning and now at 96 years old.
In recent days we have been reminded of Queen Elizabeth’s journey to the throne – Up to the age of 10, it was a reasonable distant unlikely outcome, as the child of the second son of King George the fifth. However, the abdication crisis in the mid-nineteen thirties changed all that. It culminated with her father becoming King George the sixth and her destiny with it. Then again later on, her father died at 56, an age we think of as relatively young. It would not have been unreasonable at that point, to think she had somewhere in the region of another 20 plus years before she became our monarch. But it was not to be and with 2 small children Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne of our country at the tender age of 25!
For me (and I know I may well be a bit biased!), but also for some at the coffee morning, the answer to what I most admire about Elizabeth, our Queen is her deep rooted Christian Faith. On this day when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit particularly on the feast of Pentecost, it is fantastic to be giving thanks for someone who has followed her call and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit so explicitly and implicitly day by day
The documentary shown last week – Elizabeth, the unseen Queen, which if we haven’t watched it yet, I recommend wholeheartedly. (Sadly, I had not realised until I started watching it – that the commentary with it would include the reflections of the Queen herself on the events before us.) As is her way the remarks were brief with much of the footage being shown with accompanying music. But what was said was resonant with her Christian faith – in the way many of her communications are.
As I said – our Queen lives a life that is implicitly guided by her Christian faith, and the presence of God with her through the Holy Spirit. This spills out explicitly in what she says. For example – she said I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. When all your world is torn with grief and strife, think yet. When there seems nothing left to mend, a frail and torn fabric of your life, a golden thread of courage has no end.
The need to lead courageously, inspired by God’s presence with us Is very much the theme of our first reading today. When Joshua is taking on the mantle of leadership from Moses – on the cusp of entry into the promised land. We hear echoes in this of the Queen’s first steps in monarchy after her beloved Father died. And her evident courage over these many years
This passage and particularly where it ends has long been a favourite of mine (and is a reading particularly chosen for platinum jubilee celebrations like this one). God speaking to Joshua, to Elizabeth our Queen and to us – Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. A quote I am fond of which makes the point well is from General George Patton who said “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
Since the Queen’s birth in 1926, our world has changed hugely and our Queen has pretty much seen it all and for many things met the key players.14 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill, 14 US presidents Harry Truman (with only 1 she hasn’t met). Just pause and thing about “What events have happened since her birth Or what has been invented and who over the years the Queen has met?”
In all those events and people, and with all that stuff that has been invented – there is lots to be thankful for and to reflect on. One thing has not changed, and as we thought about the vow the Queen made to our country and the commonwealth. We know feels she has been called to serve in this unique way by God.
Our second reading from Luke’s gospel reminds how important it is be among others (as Jesus was) as one who serves. As we give thanks for the life of Elizabeth our Queen, we cannot do that without realising how central her faith in God is and how that has guided her life of duty and service. There is little doubt it would have all looked very different without this faith and the work of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration in her life, which has given her the strength she has needed for each step along the way.
We have seen courage in the face of adversity in our Queen and most recently sitting alone at the funeral of her beloved husband is an image we remember. She does not have the freedom to express herself in the ways that we have. Her ability to stay calm and a role model in all circumstances is admirable!
Our Queen has also been called upon to speak and to find the strength in some of the most difficult of times for our country too. In 2020 she spoke to us in the early days of lockdown. I remember being very struck by what she said at the time, partly prophetic and profoundly reassuring at a very frightening and unsettling time. Towards the end of that speech she spoke prophetically of the great advances of sciences that enabled COVID vaccines, and went on We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.
Finally, I want to end with three short quotes from that recent documentary Elizabeth, the unseen Queen, which speak to service, courage and the deeply held Christian faith of our Queen. How the Holy Spirit has guided her over the years. For Elizabeth our Queen, there is more to life, deeper meaning and purpose which flow from these words
We are all visitors to this time, this place -Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love and then we return home.
When people have a challenge, they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath to find courage and strength. In fact the word inspire, simply means to breathe in.
Each day is a new beginning, I know the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right. To take the long view and give of my best in what that day brings and to put my trust in God.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995
The Servant Queen and the king she serves – produced by CPO – for the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II