An article by Rev. Steve Rees, Vicar of All Saints Crowborough.
What an extraordinary and wonderful long life our Queen has had.
At the age of 25 Princess Elizabeth heard the news, whilst in Kenya, that her Father King George VI had died. That day she became Queen Elizabeth the Second and it was a year later that her Coronation took place. She is the longest serving British Monarch and is still going strong at the age of 90.
Queen Elizabeth has been for many of us a constant figure throughout our lives in this ever changing world. She has always been an important feature of the Rees family Christmas. Ever since I can remember, I have gathered with my family (after an enormous turkey lunch) to listen to the Queen’s speech and I have stood to sing heartily with my family ‘God Save our Gracious Queen.’
Having listened to over 40 years of the Queen’s speech it’s clear that her faith shines brightly. Through all the heartaches, challenges and joys that she has faced, her faith in Jesus Christ has been a source of great strength in her rôle as both Mother and Monarch.
I was particularly moved by her speech a few years ago in 2011. I do think it was one of her best speeches to date. I was moved to hear that she said she was praying for us. Have you ever realised that that the Queen prays for her people?
I know that my Grandmother prayed for me every day. I know that my parents pray for me and my family every day. I know that my wife prays for me every day. And from Christmas day 2011 I discovered that my Sovereign the Queen prays for me -and all her people!
I have listened again to that speech and recorded her words:
‘My prayer is that you will find room in your lives for the message of the angels and the love of God.’
The message of the angels is one I guess most of us have heard at Christmas each year of our lives. It’s found in the gospel of Luke chapter 2 verse 10.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’
This message is given to the shepherds but it’s for us all. It is a message of good news.
“I bring you good news of great joy for all people”
It’s good news about the birth of God’s son Jesus, who was born to be a Saviour.
The Queen went on in her speech to say:
“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.”
The message of the angels is good news – about the saviour who can forgive us. We all carry burdens of past failure and regret and long to have a clear conscience – to find forgiveness. The Bible makes it clear that our sin stops us from knowing God as our Father. Jesus has come to bring God’s forgiveness into our lives and restore us into the relationship with God that we were made for.
There are only a few people who can call the Queen their Mother and friend: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Because of Jesus coming to be our Saviour the wonder of the Christian message is that we can call God our Father and Jesus our friend. The Baby announced by the angels grew up and went willingly to the cross. He suffered and died instead of us, so that the price was paid for the sins we have committed and forgiveness is freely offered.
We can have the sure hope of God’s fatherly care and friendship now, and the firm promise of a heavenly home one day when this life ends. This is the comfort and hope that many long for. But few realise that it’s found in Jesus the Saviour with the power to forgive – for he is God.
We can so easily put our faith in so many other things that we think will give us knowledge of God and the hope of heaven. We think by being patriotic, being British, by being kind or attending church – that these things ensure our relationship with God and his gift of heaven. But that’s not the case. If it were then there would be no need for God to send Jesus the saviour to die and rise again!
You see this is the reason why the Queen prayed ‘My prayer is that you will find room in your lives for the message of the angels and the love of God.’
I guess the simple challenge that comes from the Queen – and more importantly from King Jesus – is this: have we made room in our lives for this most important message? Have we made room in our lives for the love and comfort and salvation that the Lord wants us to know day by day?
I have found, as have many millions of people around the world have, that in and through faith in Jesus forgiveness is found, friendship with God is restored and the sure hope of heaven is guaranteed.
As we give thanks to God for our Queen’s 90 years of life, let us welcome Jesus into our lives and enjoy the faith that she has found, to be a rich source of strength and help for our lives.
Come and join us at 10.30am on Sunday 12th June for a Celebration Service. Then bring a picnic so we can eat together on Chapel Green afterwards