Happy Birthday Your Majesty

HRH Queen Elizabeth

More than 500 people have booked tickets to attend the Hook Royal Party on Sunday June 12th to celebrate the 90th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. It is a great joy and privilege for Life Church to be part of the organising committee for this event along with other organisations and churches in Hook. The unity that has been demonstrated by the various parties involved is in itself a testament to the affection which so many people in our community have for Her Majesty. In a country that is increasingly diverse the Queen is highly respected as a figure of stability and consistency throughout her long life and reign.

On 12th June guests at the Garden Party will be offered a souvenir copy of ‘The Servant Queen’, a tribute which examines her life and significantly her faith. By any measure Queen Elizabeth’s life is remarkable. The young princess was born into the Royal Family but as the daughter of the second in line to the throne there was no expectation in her early years that she would ever become Queen. That all changed when her father was crowned King George VI. Soon after that Britain faced the challenge of World War II and the threat this presented to our nation.

In her forward to the book she reminds us of the words quoted by King George in his 1939 Christmas Day speech. ‘I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”’ Although the Queen never mentions it herself it was she, as a 13 year old girl, who drew the King’s attention to these inspiring words that sustained a nation in its hour of greatest peril.

The Queen’s own testimony is that throughout her life she has consistently placed her hand into the hand of God and found in him a source of strength and courage. Time and again in her Christmas Message she refers to her faith in Jesus Christ and the way that this has informed her life of service to our nation. As British Monarch she deserves the highest respect of her people yet she considers herself first and foremost the servant of another King. That king is Jesus – King of kings and Lord of lords.

So at this time of celebration and rejoicing we wish Her Majesty a very Happy Birthday and encourage everyone who reads this to join her in placing your hand into the hand of God.

 

This blog post featured in the June 2016 edition of Hook Focus

In, Out, In, Out … Shake it all about

europe-flag-1332945

The referendum debate reminds me of the Hokey Cokey. Overwhelmingly people I speak to are undecided whether we should be in or out of the EU. The overall attitude to the subject seems to either be one of confusion or of boredom.

As we approach Thursday 23rd June one thing is certain and that is that everyone will be glad when it is over, for now at least. If the opinion polls are right it will be a close run decision which means that a sizeable minority of voters will be disappointed with the outcome. Regardless of the outcome there will be yet further analysis of the implications of the decision and how it will be worked out over the coming months and years.

The public debate seems to have revolved about matters such as immigration and also about how much better off we will be financially. Each side it seems tries to outdo the other in instilling fear over the consequences of making the wrong decision. The difficulty it seems is knowing who to believe.

What if there could be another way to approach the issue? One that did not place self-interest at the heart of the debate? One that instead put the priorities of preaching the Good News about Jesus at the centre?

I understand that this approach may not get an airing on TV’s Question Time, but it seems to me that it is the approach that fits best with a biblical understanding of how we as Christians should approach any manifestation of human government. In 1 Timothy 2 Paul urged ‘that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority’. What Paul is inviting us to is concerted and effortful praying.

He is also specific in what we should request. The biblical agenda in verse two is radically different from the matters of financial stability or national sovereignty that have driven the campaign. He says we should pray ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ He then goes on to say that ‘this is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’

This insight may not change the way that you vote on 23rd June but hopefully it will inspire you to pray that the outcome will be good for the preaching of the gospel across the whole of Europe. It is always good to pray in this way for our political leaders, but especially at a time of referendum which is expected to set the course for our nation for the next 40 years.

 

This blog post featured in the June 2016 edition of Lifelines