Queen - Christmas 2014
Forgiveness

The Queen of peace and reconciliation

 

“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, He stretched out His hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.”

The Queen’s traditional Christmas Day broadcast to her peoples in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth resonated with two words this year – peace and reconciliation. She began with a reflection on the sculpture of embrace which sits in the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral, moved on to the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, to which she said silence was “the only possible reaction”, and thence to the Christmas truce of the Great War, which was “something remarkable”.

And she spoke of grief and loss, of sacrifice and service, of friendship, hope and love. And she constructed her homily firmly on christological inspiration of the Prince of Peace, who is, she says, an inspiration and an anchor in her life. He taught her how to forgive the lacerations of life, how to reconcile across the gulfs of difference, and how to make peace in the discord and distress of hatred and war. Christ’s example is one of courageous peace-making and perpetual reconciliation, which she reflects in her Royal Ministry and manifests in her disposition of selflessness and faithfulness to the One who transforms hearts and renews minds.

By speaking so openly about her faith, the Queen liberates thousands of consciences from the stifling confines of political correctness. She transcends the pettiness of partisan notions of equality and forges the salvation which serves our common life. In a world of wickedness, alienation and division she encourages grace and creates peace.

How remarkable it is to have a head of state whose royal dignity is alive with God’s image. The Queen leads a godly life in her generation: it is a reign of righteousness which imparts great wisdom and grasps the eternal truths. Where our politicians are wrong and weak, her political counsel guides and her spiritual strength advises and rebukes. By framing her mission so patently with Christian virtue, she heaps burning coals on the heads of those who seek to relativise, standardise and equalise. Christianity is not simply one belief in a free market of multi-faith bartering. Nor is Jesus simply one in a pantheon of gods from which we may pick and mix syncretised deities to suit our sweetened teeth and itching ears.

Christianity is about liberation: Jesus calls us not only to be kind to our friends but to love our enemies, which is the complete, divinely corresponding form of neighbourly love, and the way to lasting peace on earth. If we quarrel as individuals and enter into conflict as nations, we are drawn into vicious circles of hopeless rejoinder and retaliation, forever wishing ill on our enemies and repaying evil with evil. We justify our threats and rationalise our hate, oblivious to the corrosion it causes to the soul. The only escape from mutual hostility is to stop allowing the enemy’s action to dictate our response.

Only by repaying evil with good can we create something new. How blessed we are to have a Head of State and Supreme Governor who defends the Faith, confesses Christ, witnesses for peace, and enjoys beating swords into ploughshares.

  • Matt A

    A wonderful Queen indeed. Just a great shame the abortion act and SSM were signed into law on her watch.

    • Shadrach Fire

      We forgive her for that. It is those who held the corgis to ransom we have to blame.

      • Phil R

        Because she signed them into law. We have to ask the difficult question.

        Monarchy or God. Which one was and is the most important?

        • sarky

          The queen is just a figurehead. Even if she was opposed, there is nothing she can actually do. (Well there is, but she would never exercise that power)

          • Phil R

            With Democracy becoming increasingly unwilling to make difficult decisions, or to protect the weak and powerless. She represents another model. I doubt if we will return to kings. Depends on how unpopular democracy becomes. Perhaps we are already passed the tipping point though.

            Parts of the UK and America are very much past it already as they see the police and government as acting against their interests and have done so for many years.

            Whether this perception is right or not is no longer relevant.

          • Merchantman

            Its the law that has become twisted. Jesus faced the same conundrum. His law was to be written on mans heart but many reject this basic truth.

  • Doctor Crackles

    Your Grace,

    Does this ‘respect’ mean treating atheists and Muslims the same as fellow believers?

    Surely it is illogical for a Christian to accept the faith that specifically undermines the position of Jesus Christ? The offensive part of Christ dying in agony, cut off from man and God. The bloody and cursed precursor to resurrection and new life.

    Christ came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. We must never forget this and the literal and physical aspect of it. As Paul instructs we not of physical Jacob are heirs by faith in Christ and grafted into Israel proper.

    The Queen is a remarkable example, an inspiration and a figure of hope in dark times. It is clear that her faith is genuine and not a convenient badge worn by lesser men. I would, however, weigh her words carefully in the knowledge that those behind her care little for Christ, but seek to exploit the monarch to give a royal lustre to their machinations against true faith and the British people.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      “Does this ‘respect’ mean treating atheists and Muslims the same as fellow believers?”

      Personally, I think it does in the sense that we are not called upon to hate anybody. I have no problem with the idea of reconciliation, but reconciliation must be accompanied by a resolve to not let what we believe in get trampled into the ground. Reconciliation is a two-way process. If your opponent refuses it, then it does not happen.

      • CliveM

        You make a good point well.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Forgiveness and reconciliation is for us as much as the situation. If we forgive it belies the bitterness and anger that will inevitably arise.

      • Doctor Crackles

        I think we are in a dangerous place because we have ignored the chasm of difference between Islam and Christianity. The interfaith approach of the CofE has served us ill. The problem with Islam is that it seeks to dominate and bring all into submission before it. For the Christian this is compounded because while this aim is often hidden it is possible to have a discussion using familiar terms where the meanings are held very differently by both parties. My fear is that the Queen’s words can be taken as encouragement to see unity and frienship where none actually exists. Hence, the danger.

        On Christian love I would say that the enemy is still the enemy even when we follow Christ’s command to love him.

        The Queen has a duty before God to lead us in truth.

        “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” Ezekiel 33:6

  • Uncle Brian

    Where our politicians are wrong and weak … It would have been nice if the Queen had said that. Perhaps she’ll make a note of it to use in next year’s Christmas broadcast.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I note the retweet, which enlightens us should we need it about whom many Roman Catholics give their loyalty to. And it isn’t the monarch of this country. I believe there is a name for that.

    • Albert

      Romans made that point in the days of the persecution of Christians. I believe the word for those who held steadfast to the faith rather than the state was martyr. Is that the name you mean?

      • Dominic Stockford

        I meant they hold loyalty to Rome and to the Pope. As you know, I am sure.

        • Albert

          But the general point I made is surely a fair one. Why would anyone place the state (especially the modern state) above the Church in matters of faith and morals? Any just state would be content for that to be the case. Or do you disagree?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Indeed, why would anyone put the Vatican City State and its absolute monarch above Jesus Christ and his universal church?

          • Albert

            Quite so. No one would. One wonders what would lead someone to think that anyone had.

    • Yes, ’tis true, Dominic. Catholics give their first loyalty to Jesus Christ.

      • Dominic Stockford

        The clear implications of the retweet were that the individual gives their loyalty to Rome, spiritually & civicly

        • You didn’t notice the 😉 in the retweet? The ‘Digitalnun’ has a sense of humour, Dominic.

          That said, if there was ever a conflict between the secular and the spiritual, one hopes Catholics would give their first loyalty to Christ and His commandments as taught by His Church above the nation.

          “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

          • Dominic Stockford

            I missed the smily face, but was it a wink…? I think there should be a public enquiry into it.

          • Send in Special Branch.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Call in Inspector Knacker of the Yard.

          • Assisted by Chief Inspector Clouseau Jacobs?

            Without warning, he will attack you. In this way, he will keep you vigilant and alert.

      • CliveM

        Not just Catholics.

  • Uncle Brian

    You need to read it more carefully, Dominic. She says she dissents from the Supreme Governor bit, not from the Head of State bit.

  • NBeale

    Yes I agree. The Christmas Broadcasts are always admirable and recently she has been deliberately and wisely outspoken in her tolerant Christian faith. A great example.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    “How blessed we are to have a Head of State and Supreme Governor who defends the Faith, confesses Christ, witnesses for peace, and enjoys beating swords into ploughshares.”

    I completely agree.

  • Albert

    Excellent to see HMQ speaking so clearly of her faith. On which note, I’m sorry to see, Dr C, that your successor has pneumonia. Too much hard work in the Lord’s vineyard no doubt. I pray he has a speedy and full recovery.

    • Phil R

      Too much hard work in the Lord’s vineyard

      Too much work in everyone else’s?

      Perhaps a new year resolution to work in the Lord’s vineyard world give him a lot less stress and a healthy mind

  • Inspector General

    There are, of course, two forms of peace and reconciliation. The victors and the vanquished. May the British never feel the humiliation of the second…

  • IanCad

    “Long to reign over us–.”

    May be it so.

    • Uncle Brian

      Some time next September she will overtake Queen Victoria and become the longest reigning British monarch. Around the 12th, I think. A friend did the calculations.

      • CliveM

        Apart from the King of Thailand she is the worlds longest reigning Monarch.

        May she continue to reign over us and long may we continue to be her loyal subjects.

      • Pubcrawler

        Deo volente

  • Happy Jack is extremely fond of Her Majesty. He was born in the year she became Queen and feels very privileged to have lived during her reign. Despite being born and raised in Northern Ireland as a Roman Catholic, he was taught to have great respect for the Christian Monarchy. Yesterday’s Christmas Speech demonstrated why this is so.

    Jack was heartened when reading the speeches of all the world’s ‘great and good’ to hear Pope Francis speak so clearly about the evils facing our world. One great evil he condemned that may not be so widely covered in Britain was abortion:

    “My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life …”

    • CliveM

      Happy Jack

      I think between them, the Head of the Church of England and the Church of Rome, got it just about right!

      I was also impressed by what the Pope said.

      • Ahem …. Governor of the Church, Clive.

        • CliveM

          Hmmm, I say something nice about the Pope and all I get is pedantry in return :0)

          • Supreme is an unnecessary superlative. Linus would agree too. One either is or is not the Governor. Its use has always stuck Jack as a sign of uncertainty.

          • CliveM

            You can have several Governors, but only one Supreme Governor?

            I think Linus would only be interested if he could eat it.

        • CliveM

          Anyway in an effort to out pedant….. Supreme Governor, if you don’t mind!

    • Shadrach Fire

      Ah! Now you have given away your age Jack you young whipper snapper.
      I watched the Coronation on TV and have a good few years too. Doesn’t seem to have added to the wisdom though.

      • Happy Jack is a time traveller from 1952.

        • Shadrach Fire

          I was five when you burst forth. Not difficult to see who got the better measure of brain cells. Except that you are still a Catholic! Have a happy new year Jack with that new Grand Child.

      • dannybhoy

        Me too!
        He’s just an uppity youngster with delusions…

  • Shadrach Fire

    Queen Elizabeth II. The best monarch we could have hoped for. She must be very disappointed how her children and her Grandchildren have turned out Spiritually.

    • Phil R

      And her country

  • David

    There are wise words of comment here, which I have very much enjoyed reading. Thank you for them.

    This country, or rather the country that it has become these last few decades, does not deserve to have a monarch as steadfast, faithful and resolute as Her Majesty The Queen. Long may she reign over us. Thanks indeed be to Almighty God for her.

    Amongst the sweep of our own compromised, untrustworthy and relativist politicians here in the UK, and the international secular heads of state like Obama and Hollande, truly Elizabeth the Second stands out as an inspiration to any western Christian man or woman, reminding them of what the west could be again, if only it recognised its own cultural roots, planted mainly in the fertile soil of the Judaeo-Christian story.

    One wonders if her clear Christian faith influences how The God of Creation regards this now confused and beleaguered island country, damaged by so many of her mendacious, faithless politicians, weak Churchmen and nominal Christian subjects. Long may she live. But I fear that her eventual passing may mark another phase, an acceleration in our journey downwards into that empty spiritual desert, the post-Christian age.

    • dannybhoy

      I’m a dissenter here. Do I respect the Queen? Yes.
      Do I think the Royal Family have a future? Yes if they really stand for something. other than tourism or as a mouthpiece for the government.
      I think the Church Of England has completely lost its way, and sadly it’s at a time when we so need a clear Christian voice of authority speaking into our nation.

      • David

        This traditional, theologically orthodox Anglican concurs completely with you. As a mere detail, which noun do you mean, dissenter or Dissenter ?

        • dannybhoy

          David. I dissent from the mainstream view here. I am grateful, not proud to be an Englishman, and appreciate all the benefits and obligations of citizenship, but I do dislike all the snobbery and class and elitism that continues to affect us.

          We so easily forget the awful child abuse scandals not just in northern towns involving Muslim gangs where political correctness trumped the law; but also the scandals rumoured to involve politicians, judges, top brass, clergy and so on.

          Then there’s all the elderly people who die year on year because they can’t eat and keep warm, or who suffer neglect or abuse in care homes. Or our own soldiers who are left to their own devices after serving their country, while we have an abundance of generals and admirals! There’s so much that we should be demanding be brought into the light and dealt with that isn’t.
          Why is that?

          • David

            Thank you for explaining the nature of your dissent. Your points are very valid I think. One of the reasons why I am a convinced, committed Christian is because the faith answers the question you pose, at the end. Christianity offers an explanation for human nature, our relationship to God and to each other, better than any other explanation that I’ve encountered.

          • dannybhoy

            There you go David!
            My connections to Anglicanism are tenuous. I attended a boarding school with military connections where church attendance was mandatory, This is where I learnt to be suspicious of authority and privilege..
            In my early 20’s I came to faith through an Anglican (charismatic) curate and after many years my wife and I are members of our little village’s parish church. Strangely, though we regard ourselves as essentially of a non conformist background, we find ourselves leading the efforts to encourage spiritual growth and reach out into the community.
            No boasting there, it’s just how it is. We respect our vicar and curate as called to a ministry. We always seek to support them and share ideas privately.
            Our feeling is that we are all one in Christ, that although the Lord may call us to different ministries, we are all of equal value before our Lord.
            Do I hear an “Amen!” brother Danny?

          • David

            I can relate to all that, and am fairly similar.
            I was christened into the Anglican Church and attended the local, parish village church, which was I suppose a “mainstream” one. But despite all the influences on me I have always been drawn towards the protestant reformed position, basing “authority” on Scripture largely. But the very Anglican approach of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, with Scripture uppermost, has much to commend it, I believe. However intense denominationalism is destructive, if not idolatrous I feel, as all Trinitarian Christians who acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and our reliance on Him for salvation, are grafted onto the same vine.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes David, what really counts is being able to fellowship with each other because our Lord is the very centre of our lives.
            Jesus said
            “Where two or three are gathered in My name there am I in the midst” Matthew 18:20, and I believe that. I believe if our hearts are right before God we can know the presence of the Lord amongst us. Whether there be candles, or altars or anything else it’s a pure and faithful heart that really matters.

          • David

            Indeed, yes.

          • Shadrach Fire

            Following this thread, I am intrigued by the analogy with Abraham and the seed of the Bond and the seed of the free.
            When we try to fulfill gods will by our methods it is of the Bond. When we trust God to fulfill his will in accordance with his word, it is rightfully fulfilled by Him of the Spirit.

          • David

            “I think I follow your drift”, I say self-questionningly.

          • dannybhoy

            Amen.
            Amen!
            Amen?

          • Shadrach Fire

            Good for you Dannybhoy but I learnt a strong spiritual principle many years ago. You cannot minister upwards. In other words, If your Minister does not have the vision, he will not get it from you. It will probably lead to dissension. If it’s not working out, either move on or do your own thing.

          • dannybhoy

            Shadrach,
            You are also right.
            No Christian is complete of themselves. We need each other, and as a congregation we need a vision. One of the “lacks” in the Anglican and Catholic traditions is the absence of anointed elders with particular ministries of service.Unless the minister or priest is aware of the New Testament form of church, bottlenecks occur because all is dependent on the minister.
            (Which can make him both incredibly lonely and also vulnerable.)
            An Anglican church can flourish if the minister is willing to trust others and allow them to exercise the gifts that he himself may lack. This was the case in the church I came to faith through. The vicar (who was very much a pastor and leader) had a great team, comprising clergy and laity. He managed to communicate the vision and as a result the church grew.
            So I do agree with you Shadrach. Our loyalty has always to be first and foremost to our Lord, and then to give our all in the congregation he places us into.
            I love the 12th chapter of Romans…

            “I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

            Gifts of Grace

            3 For by the grace given to me I say to every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

            Marks of the True Christian

            9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

            14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if
            your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to
            drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  • len

    It would be quite easy to get a false message of Christ`s mission on Earth to see how He is presented by some people the Queen included.
    Did He come to bring peace and reconciliation?. Well yes and No ..
    Did Jesus Christ accept all faiths ..Well yes and No…
    Jesus caused division by defining sin and proclaiming all to be sinners(including the self righteous),Jesus caused division by declaring that He was ‘the door ‘and no one could gain access to heaven unless they went through Him.Peace and reconciliation was only possible by accepting God`s method of
    salvation which was through Christ`s atonement for the sins of humanity
    on the Cross at Calvary.

    Jesus would not compromise with the World and the world hated Him because of that. That is the price that any must pay if they would follow Christ and many are not prepared to pay that price.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Absolutely.

  • B flat

    I wish I could express my love for God, the Queen, and my country, with the simplicity and directness, seen in Her Majesty’s Christmas message, in Your post, and the many comments here. But I have not the wit. So i thank everyone for their comments, but principally Your Grace, for troubling to maintain this blog. It is, like the Queen, an oasis of sanity in the arid, shifting sands of our country’s political landscape. God bless us all to be better than we are, and God save the Queen!

  • Shadrach Fire

    I keep coming back to see whats new and I can’t help thinking how well Her Majesty is Looking. When I compare her with my mother in law who is ninety, the Queen does incredibly well. Thanks be to God. The queen mum was reported to have said in Clarence house when her food had not appeared. ‘Will you queens down there get a move on and look after this Queen up here’.

    • IanCad

      Cute story.
      I sure hope mother in law doesn’t read your comment.

    • dannybhoy

      “I keep coming back to see whats new and I can’t help thinking how well
      Her Majesty is Looking. When I compare her with my mother in law who is
      ninety, the Queen does incredibly well. Thanks be to God.”
      A bit creep-y there Shadrach…