Today is the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the 60th Anniversary of her accession to the throne. The United Kingdom has prospered under her reign, emerging from post-war austerity to a country where, although there are still many needy, there are also very many who have fitted carpets, central heating, colour televisions and even iPhones. Such items were luxuries or even non-existent in 1950’s Britain. The quality of a nation cannot just be measured in material terms however. Safety, security, peace, unity and goodwill are even more important. Sadly these have not grown at the same rate as our material prosperity, which itself is looking more shaky.
The world was at its most unstable during the reign of the Queen’s late father, His Majesty King George VI. World War II was a terrible time for many nations, but now sixty-seven years later people are still afraid of what is happening to the world. Even today a 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook the Philippines. What is the answer? Her Majesty’s recent Christmas broadcast gives a clue to the solution. Not one that will necessarily take our problems away, but instead she points to someone whose love and strength will see us through.
EXCERPT FROM THE QUEEN’S CHRISTMAS BROADCAST 2011
“Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin
And enter in
Be born in us today
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”
Perhaps if our nation followed the Queen’s advice and stuck more closely to Him, it would be in a better state than it is now? May God continue to “save our gracious Queen.”