We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet… For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (I Cor 15: 51, 52)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. (Hebrews 10:23)
Around the world, HM Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered perhaps more than any other king or queen in history. Not only was she the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, but she was also the Queen who, throughout her long rule, devoted her entire life with unswerving loyalty to the people and nations under her dominion. She will also be remembered for her great sense of humour; and what a great sport she was! Who will ever forget her entrance with James Bond at the 2012 Olympics or her afternoon tea with Paddington Bear during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations?
But, for followers of Jesus Christ, one thing in the life of Queen Elizabeth stands out: she was the monarch who openly declared her commitment to Christ, demonstrating her devotion to Him through many acts of thoughtfulness and kindness to others and sharing her faith through radio and TV broadcasts. On a radio broadcast on her 21st birthday, with warmth and determination she said, "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. God help me to make good my vow".
For many, the way in which the Queen spoke most directly to them was through her Christmas messages. In 1952 she used her first Christmas broadcast to ask the world to pray for her in relation to her forthcoming Coronation. “Pray for me… that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
Over the years, she consistently used these Christmas messages to proclaim her faith, speaking often from Bible. A favourite parable was the one that Jesus told of the ‘Good Samaritan’. In 1985 she said that the story ‘reminds us of our duty to our neighbour and that we should try to follow Christ's clear instruction at the end of that story: "Go and do thou likewise”. This is not the only example, here are some of the many others:
1976: “Remember that good spreads outwards and every little does help. Mighty things from small beginnings grow as indeed they grew from the small child of Bethlehem.”
1981: “Christ not only revealed to us the truth in his teachings. He lived by what he believed and gave us the strength to try to do the same - and, finally, on the cross, he showed the supreme example of physical and moral courage.”
2000: “To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example.”
2002: “I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God... I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
2011: “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... 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.”
2012: “This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son 'to serve, not to be served'. … The carol, In the Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: 'What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part'. The carol gives the answer: 'Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’”
On what was to become her final Christmas broadcast, aired on 25th Dec 2021, HM The Queen told us, "Jesus whose teachings have been handed down from generation to generation have been the bedrock of my faith. His birth marked a new beginning. As the carol says, "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”
Apart from her Christmas broadcasts to the Nation, the Queen made five other broadcasts at times of great significance. The last of those was on 5th April 2020 at the start of the Pandemic. Her closing words resonated with millions. The words she used, I use now fuelled by faith. We, who are followers of Christ, are not saying ‘Goodbye’ to HM Queen Elizabeth II, we are simply saying, “We’ll meet again.”
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