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Jubilee



Did you see the Queen on the balcony?


Did you watch the video she made with Paddington? Perhaps we should all carry a marmalade sandwich around with us.


This past weekend was all about one person. Regardless of your view on the role of the monarchy (and we recognise that Christians may legitimately differ on it), it’s hard not to admire the Queen as an individual.


The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was such a welcome respite from the news, wasn’t it? Boris in trouble, the Ukraine under renewed, intense attack, and travel chaos. Into this stepped the Queen, all smiles, and the nation breathed a sigh of relief. We celebrated with her.


In the street. In the garden. Watching her on TV. Hanging up bunting. Clinking our tea cups.


Many say she is an inspiration. I’m among them. Here are the ways she inspires me.


FAITHFUL TO THE TASK


There is a word for this. Duty. The queen made it clear from the very beginning of her reign that she understood and accepted her new role. She intended to be a faithful servant of the nation, whatever the demands placed upon her. In her Devotions, she wrote about her forthcoming coronation:


By the anointing God makes, blesses, and consecrates me Queen: and I am till my dying day ‘his anointed servant’. In the anointing God creates a new relationship between himself and me, giving me for my use in this office just those resources of his divine grace which I need to dispose hands and heart and mind to do his will.


No one chooses to be queen. Elizabeth II didn’t select “reigning monarch of the United Kingdom” from an array of career options. It was bestowed upon her, and though her uncle stepped aside from the throne, she was never once tempted to do the same. She was committed to her calling and all it entailed. None of us can understand the demands of the role. Only the tiny number who wear the crown can. We see the wealth, the fame, the privilege. We easily forget the long hours, the huge constraints on personal freedom, and the requirement at all times to think of the good of the nation.


Faithful to the task.


As you serve your church, are you faithful to the task? I do not equate this with long hours. This has to do with self-discipline and the sacrifices that leaders make to serve God’s people. Serving without complaining. Getting on with difficult people. Running meetings that sometimes achieve little. Making decisions that you know will upset people—because tough decisions are part of the job. Loving those who are demanding and needy. Tolerating a welter of criticism on Monday mornings, because some in the community take issue with the tiniest of details. Setting boundaries for staff members who, without thinking, sometimes do tasks that are not assigned to them.


What is a leader to do?


Be faithful in prayer.

Be faithful in service.

Be faithful in all things. To the Lord. To church. To family.


Duty has to do with setting aside our own personal preferences for a greater good. Serving when it’s the last thing we want to do. “Ma’am, I’m afraid we need to add one more visit on that day.” Imagine how often the Queen has had to attend yet one more ceremony.


So . . .


When most people have left the building, you notice a person sitting in the back pew. Alone. Head down. You’re desperate to get home for lunch—you have visitors coming—but you head back in to sit and talk. It’s your duty. You are faithful to the task.



FAITHFUL TO HER VALUES


First, family. The Queen has always placed a high priority on family life. She always remained faithful to Prince Philip. As Christians, it’s been hard to watch the breakdown of her children’s marriages. In particular, her annus horribilis was filled with anguish. Through it all, the Queen has maintained her dignity. She has continued to serve.


In truth, the value she has been forced to cultivate more than most has been tolerance. That might sound odd. Tolerance is the ability to accept, encourage, and work with people who disappoint you, hurt you, let you down, make poor choices, and sometimes embarrass you. The Queen is not perfect, but she has managed to exhibit patience, tolerance and love for people with whom she disagrees profoundly. Prime Ministers who made terrible decisions. Children who brought shame on the family. Marital breakdown throughout the next generation. Never once has the Queen come out and publicly criticised those who have hurt or embarrassed her. In a culture which has become known for its plethora of opinions—on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—she keeps her counsel. Television interviews have been rare, and she has always ensured that her answers avoid controversy. It is a requirement of the job that she understands. Such an approach has served her well.


Finally, grace—a concept strongly associated with the word, “jubilee,” which is taken from the Bible. Jubilee in ancient Israel[1] had to do with releasing people from their debts, freeing slaves, and returning property to the original owners. In short, it’s about grace and mercy.[2]


How has the Queen demonstrated grace? A recent example should suffice.


What do you do when your grandson goes on TV and publicly criticises the institution you have led your whole life? Harry and Meghan could quite easily have been ostracised from the family. Excluded from every royal event. Yet the Queen chose a different path. She extended grace. She placed a higher value on grace than on judgement.



FAITHFUL TO GOD


How can we know what goes on in the heart of the Queen, a person most of us only see on TV or read about in the paper? One way is to listen when she speaks. Here are some quotes:


For me, the life of Jesus Christ . . . is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.


Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them . . .


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. Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.


Why does the Queen inspire me?


Because, as someone who professes to be a follower of Jesus, she aspires me to serve him faithfully.


Is that not the goal of all believers? To serve our Lord faithfully. To bring him glory.



 

1 – Sadly, the Israelites failed very badly when it came to enacting jubilee.


2 – See Leviticus 25


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