As children at school, we were given a flag one morning and led out onto the pavement to wave to the Queen as she arrived to open a new bank in Birmingham city centre. Being a child I imagined the Queen was already very old, but 60 years later the Queen is still very much alive, but the bank has been demolished and replaced with a glitzy hotel!
Like many people I have been very touched by the different celebrations we have all been encouraged to join in with over the past 3 months to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday. I just wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on her life, and to quote from some of her speeches, as her total commitment and dedication to service is founded upon a simple trust and firm faith in God.
She is now the longest reigning monarch in British history. At 90 she is still working more than 40 hours per week. She has a staff of 1200 but still insists on feeding her own beloved corgis! (I like that idea).
She is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and chooses to attend church weekly and prays daily, but never tells any of her family to go to church.
As a child she was educated at home and studied constitutional history and law and the religion of the Anglican Church. Six months before her Coronation in 1953, she asked the people of the UK and Commonwealth to pray for her:
1953 (aged 27) ‘Pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him, and you, all the days of my life.’
What is the secret of the Queen’s remarkable consistency of character and extraordinary contribution to the nation, the Commonwealth and the global community?
2002, (aged 76) ‘I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God…I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.’
She has often used the Christmas broadcasts to affirm her faith:
2014, (aged 88) ‘For me the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today is a source of inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.’
Two years earlier, in an address to faith leaders of the United Kingdom at Lambeth Palace in 2012, the Queen confirmed that the Church of England has a duty to protect the free practise of all faiths in this country. Rabbi Jonathon Sacks, a former Chief Rabbi who met the Queen several times, reflected that Jewish people value the Queen because she makes them feel, not strangers in a strange land, but respected citizens at home. Indeed the Queen’s strong faith in Christ does not lead her to exclude people of other faiths but to embrace them.
I have read that her favourite passage in the Bible is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. She says it reminds us of our duty to our neighbour. We should try to follow Christ’s clear instruction at the end of the story: ‘Go and do thou likewise’.
This month perhaps is a good time to take stock and see how we can put our faith into action with the same dedication as our Queen. Age, it seems, is no longer a barrier to work but an opportunity to become just that bit wiser, and like our Queen there is the opportunity to serve one another in the name of the Lord.