I have frequently noticed that whenever a strong message of national judgement has gone out Christians are left puzzled about what they can or should do in response. They may well agree with the diagnosis of the national situation and even with the truth of coming judgement, but then feel quite helpless because there is very little they feel they can do to stand against the powerful forces which are driving society downwards. How do you puncture the media’s vested interest in blatant sex and violence? It’s too big! How do you make a move against kleptocracy, those that steal their countries resources for their own personal ends? It’s too remote! How do you combat the growing levels of corruption in all walks of life? etc. These are great swirling tides that overwhelm us and leave us feeling helpless and demoralised. So, the question that is uppermost is, “What do you want us to do?” It is the same question that was asked of John the Baptist in response to his preaching. Read more
In one of the January columns I spoke warmly of the Christian content of the Queen’s Christmas message, and said that in this Jubilee year we should pray that other occasions might arise when she could speak equally firmly about the Christian faith. Last Wednesday (15th Feb) she was present at a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was, as the Archbishop said, one of her first public engagements to celebrate her Jubilee year. She met with and addressed representatives of eight non-Christian religions – groups from the Baha’i, the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian religions. This inevitably was going to be a difficult challenge for her to negotiate. The speeches were short; one from the Archbishop, a response from the Queen and a thank-you from the Archbishop.
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: