On Christmas Day the Queen will broadcast her 64th Christmas Message. In doing this she upholds a tradition that began with her grandfather George V who broadcast 4 speeches, and was continued by her father George VI who broadcast 14 messages. Neither Queen Elizabeth II nor King George VI were expected to become monarch when they were born but their destinies were changed when Edward VIII abdicated. Prince Charles and Prince William on the other hand have lived with the knowledge that they have both been born to be king.
Traditionally the Queen talks about significant events that have occurred during the year and so it would be in keeping with her previous speeches to make reference to her 90th Birthday Celebrations. Often she will comment on worldwide events that affect the UK or the Commonwealth. We will have to wait and see whether she comments on Brexit or, less likely on Trump. Nevertheless this year has been one which has seen seismic changes on the political scene.
Two thousand years ago Jesus was born into a world that was equally fragile from a political perspective. Herod was King of Judea, but this was not much more than a puppet role as the territory was under the jurisdiction of the Roman Emperor. His role was tolerated by the Jewish religious leaders because the stability he gave meant that they had a degree of freedom to follow their religious traditions. But there was always an undercurrent of individuals looking for an opportunity to overthrow Roman rule and implement a Jexit. Little wonder then that Herod was troubled when the Wise Men from the East arrived at his palace wanting to know where they could find the baby born to be King of the Jews.
Herod consulted with his advisors who discovered that the prophet Micah had foretold the birth of a king some 700 years before. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2 NIV) Herod understood this prophecy to mean that the baby the Magi sought was born to become King of the Jews and so he ordered the slaughter of every baby boy under the age of 2.
33 years later as Jesus was about to ascend to heaven following his resurrection, the disciples demonstrated a similar misunderstanding and asked Jesus when he was going to restore the kingdom of Israel. They were still looking for the overthrow of the Roman oppressors. Jesus’ kingdom however is not an earthly realm with geographical boundaries. Rather it is found everywhere that there are followers of Jesus.
This Christmas I pray that you will let the baby born to be king become King of your life.
This blog post featured in the December 2016 edition of Hook Focus
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
I have recently obtained copies of a book entitled ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves’ which recounts the journey of faith that our Queen has taken over the 90 years of her life. It is an interesting read and vividly describes how she has looked to Christ as a source of comfort and strength throughout her long life. It reminded me of a story that is told about Queen Victoria who also was a woman of faith.
It is recorded that in the year of Victoria’s coronation she attended a public performance of Handel’s oratorio ‘The Messiah’. Traditionally during the famous ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ the audience rise to their feet as a mark of respect and honour for Christ. Queen Victoria however was advised by her courtiers that it was her royal prerogative to remain seated. As the chorus began and the audience rose, a struggle took place in the Queen’s mind. Should she observe court etiquette or should she honour the Lord she loved. As the choir sang the inspiring words: ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords’, she rose and stood on the royal Box bearing witness to Christ the Lord. On another occasion she uttered the words ‘Oh, I wish He would come today, so that I could lay my crowns at His feet!’
Both these queens enjoyed the longest reigns of any English monarch. Queen Victoria ruled over the British Empire in its heyday, and Queen Elizabeth II has presided over the British Commonwealth. Yet despite the pomp and pageantry associated with their positions both women have publicly stated that there is a far greater King, a king that they love to honour and serve. That king is Jesus Christ.
In Philippians we read these words: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
One day every knee will bow and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. Everyone from the greatest to the least will declare that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. It is wonderful to know that England’s longest reigning monarchs were pleased to set aside their earthly majesty to honour Christ.
What about you? Are you pleased to own Him as King of kings and Lord of lords?
This blog post featured in the April 2016 edition of Lifelines