Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

It has been a time of great celebration in the U.K., and the news telecasts, together with emails and Facebook messages from friends in London, indicate that even in these depressed economic times the Brits still have what it takes to combine a stiff upper lip perseverance with exuberant celebration. Also, Anglican Christians around the world (whatever their political views, or even their theoretical thinking on monarchy in general) cannot help but to feel a great sense of pride in the unfussy and natural way in which the Queen has witnessed to the Faith and the Gospel over the years of her reign. (Go HERE for her 2011 Christmas message in which she becomes an evangelist, outdoing even the best of our Church leaders!) 

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres KCVO, Bishop of London and Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal, prayed this Collect at the Diamond Jubilee Service in St Paul's Cathedral: 

God of time and eternity, 
whose Son reigns as servant, not master; 
we give you thanks and praise 
that you have blessed this Nation, the Realms and Territories 
with ELIZABETH, our beloved and glorious Queen. 
In this year of Jubilee, 
grant her your gifts of love and joy and peace 
as she continues in faithful obedience to you, her Lord and God, 
and in devoted service to her lands and peoples, 
and those of the Commonwealth, 
now and all the days of her life; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan, said in his sermon: 

. . . What we remember is the simple statement of commitment made by a very young woman, away from home, suddenly and devastatingly bereaved, a statement that she would be there for those she governed, that she was dedicating herself to them. 

‘Dedication’ is a word that has come to mean rather less than it used to. Those of us who belong to the same generation as Her Majesty’s older children will recall a sixties song about a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’ – as though to be ‘dedicated’ just meant to be very enthusiastic. But in the deep background of the word is the way it is used in classical and biblical language: in this context, to be ‘dedicated’ is to be absolutely removed from other uses, being completely available to God. 

And so to be dedicated to the good of a community – in this case both a national and an international community – is to say, ‘I have no goals that are not the goals of this community; I have no well-being, no happiness, that is not the well-being of the community. What will make me content or happy is what makes for the good of this particular part of the human family.’ 

It is an ambitious, even an audacious thing to aim at. It is, of course, no more so than the ideals set before all Christians who try to model their lives on what St Paul says about life in the Body of Christ . . . I don’t think it’s at all fanciful to say that, in all her public engagements, our Queen has shown a quality of joy in the happiness of others; she has responded with just the generosity St Paul speaks of in showing honour to countless local communities and individuals of every background and class and race. 

This message was sent to the Queen by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI: 

I write to offer my warmest congratulations to Your Majesty on the happy occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of your reign. During the past sixty years you have offered to your subjects and to the whole world an inspiring example of dedication to duty and a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, in keeping with a noble vision of the role of a Christian monarch. 

I retain warm memories of the gracious welcome accorded to me by Your Majesty at Holyrood House in Edinburgh at the beginning of my apostolic visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010, and I renew my thanks for the hospitality that I received throughout those four days. 

Your personal commitment to cooperation and mutual respect between the followers of different religious traditions has contributed in no small measure to improving ecumenical and inter-religious relations throughout your realms. 

Commending Your Majesty and all the royal family to the protection of Almighty God, I renew my heartfelt good wishes on this joyful occasion and I assure you of my prayers for your continuing health and prosperity.


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