I listened to a sermon on Sunday last which reminded me very forcibly of how impressed I was listening to the Queen’s speech to the nation on Christmas Day. I remember sitting up sharply at the overt nature of the Christian message which she gave toward the end of her speech. I think it well worth repeating in this column. It was so heartening that the monarch of the Realm and the Head of the Church of England should so simply yet so pointedly give honour to Jesus and to the message of forgiveness that he brought.
So here is her last section:
“For many this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones.
The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born in a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not!’ they urged, ‘We bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer: “O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today”.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord. I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”
This is her year of Jubilee, and we have much to be thankful for in the personal life and the sincere Christian faith of our Queen. She has been a great gift to this country; totally committed to her duty as Queen, and steadfast through both her own personal troubles and the troubles of the nation. She undoubtedly stands out among a long line of national monarchs not all of whom have been so sure footed as she has. It would be very fitting to pray that this Jubilee Year will find her at full strength and having numerous opportunities to give a principled and Christian input to the nation. This would be her own desire, of that I have no doubt. She has certainly given us a lead in speaking out about the Christian faith in a multi-faith society,undaunted by the absurd notion of those who say such speaking is bound to cause offence. She causes no offence because fact is, of course, she speaks with grace and in the spirit of peace.