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Home News Bishop Karen's Sermon for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

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Bishop Karen's Sermon for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

by Michael Ford last modified 08 Jun, 2022 02:00 PM

Preached at Salisbury Cathedral 4th June 2022

What a joy it is to celebrate this weekend the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. And how special it has been these last few weeks to see her out and about, on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, enjoying the Windsor Horse Show, with its humour and pageantry; trying out an oyster card on the Elizabeth line, and visiting the Chelsea Flower Show, her smile continuing to light up even the darkest day. 

And what a remarkable woman our Queen is, having carried her responsibilities so graciously and gracefully for 70 years. Her warm smile, her matching outfits and her commitment to serving the nation and commonwealth do not waiver, and we all sympathise with her need to at the age of 96 take things a little easier. 

In her lifetime Queen Elizabeth II has made over 260 official overseas trips, visiting more than 100 countries, conducted 650 investitures, acted as Patron for over 500 organisations and apparently has sat for over 130 portraits.

Her life and that of our nation have been deeply entwined as she has given the Royal Assent to 4,000 acts of parliament, in 1945 she became the first female member of the royal family to serve in the military driving trucks and maintaining vehicles during the second world war and has embraced modern forms of communication. 

During her reign the queen has received over 3.5 million items of correspondence, however before most of us, during a visit to the Royal Radar Establishment in 1976 she sent her first email, launched the Buckingham Palace Website in 1997 and sent her first tweet in 2014. 

Her Majesty’s life has been lived out in public, and although so much separates us from her, the Queen’s long reign has reflected something of our lives too as we have shared with her in those times of joy – royal weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, balcony fly overs and the Olympic and commonwealth games. However that public life has also meant the public sharing of grief, the death of parents, a sister, a daughter-in-law, the marriage breakdown of some of her family and most recently the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip. 

We pay tribute to Her Majesty today as we meet together, and join in thanksgiving for all she has given and continues to give to us all. For all of us, queen and country, queen and commonwealth go together so well that we cannot imagine one without the other. Her commitment to her calling, given in service to the nation from such a young age has been exceptional. Her work has been tireless, her sense of duty amazing, causing us to admiringly ask, how does she do it ? How can anyone serve so unstintingly, in times of deep sorrow and in times of celebration for 70 years? 

Life lived out so well in public, can only succeed if supported by an inner depth, and I believe that it has been the queen’s deep faith, that has enabled her to be all that she is and to live that extra-ordinary life. Not only has her majesty taken being head of the Church of England seriously, that role has been matched by an inner devotion to God, sustained by regular prayer and worship, a faith which the queen has spoken about on many recent Christmas Day broadcasts. 

We cannot celebrate this weekend, without recalling what the power of God makes possible, by our own devotions, and by the prayers of others. This has made me reflect back to her Coronation Service itself and how the promises made then to God, and the prayers prayed have contributed to all that we celebrate today. 

As part of that service, before the Queen was presented with symbols of her office, she was privately anointed and prayed for by the Archbishop of Canterbury, asking that she may govern her people well, and rule, justly, wisely and religiously. The Archbishop of Canterbury asked God to pour down the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon her, which nicely takes us from here, back to 1953 and back to Pentecost, the feast the church celebrates tomorrow. The coming of the Holy Spirit upon those early followers of Jesus and, as a result, celebrating the birth of the church. 

We often think of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, the Consoler, the bearer of light and peace. Or perhaps we think of the Holy Spirit in terms of a guide, or a director who we can summon to help us do or be what God expects of us. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is all of these, but much more, too. Psalm 104 speaks of the breath or "spirit" of God as being the source of all life. Hence the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is seen as the source of the life of the Church. 

As we live with the uncertainty of what the future may look like, trying to work out new parameters, and as we look back and celebrate those 70 years of our Queen’s reign, Pentecost reveals to us once again all is possible. 

After they had received the Holy Spirit, those frightened, discouraged first disciples; the people who had deserted Jesus in his time of trial; the one who had denied him – these people came out of their huddle of fear and began to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. That was a day of change for everyone in that room as they began to use the gifts given to them by God to bring transformation to the world. Like the mighty wind which we sometimes experience, the Spirit of God can also be a disturbing force. The Holy Spirit may well move us to do something we are afraid to do. The Holy Spirit may even move us to do something we initially do not want to do, unsettling us, shaking us loose from our safe places; the Holy Spirit pushes us out from the familiar into the unknown. 

In fact, the same prayer was prayed for our Queen at her coronation as is prayed by a bishop at a service of Confirmation, when once again those who have made promises to follow Christ come before God asking for help to live the Christian life, we pray asking that that they are filled with: 

'The Spirit of wisdom and government, 

The spirit of counsel and strength 

The spirit of knowledge and true godliness'

Then in 1953 that famous anthem was sung ‘Zadok the priest’ recalling that anointing of King Solomon in the Old Testament, when all the people rejoiced, God save the king, long live the king, may the king live for ever.’ Which in turn led to the anointing as the Queen was consecrated and set apart for that role which she has continued in ever since. 

With the power of the Holy Spirit, the impossible is made possible, the fearful becomes bald, a young queen is able to endure all things, sustained by continual prayer and become who she is today. So startling is the transformation of those first disciples that bystanders seek an explanation for in human terms this simply isn’t possible. One minute these disciples are a demoralised remnant, the next they are leaders and preachers, visionaries and martyrs; before they are a ragbag of labourers and after they are the “A” team, skilled in communicating the gospel across the culture and language divide. 

In the prevailing Western culture, the will of the individual is supreme, so God is becoming confined to smaller and smaller boxes, domesticated, crammed into a shape and size that seeks to place God at our disposal. 

It takes courage to place ourselves at God’s disposal, as the queen did all those year ago, and as believers have done through the ages. In faith we trust that God knows better than we do, that the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness and self control will grow within us, that by putting others first we will find the deepest joy. 

The inner prayers, the inner strength. the gift of the Holy Spirit, the private devotion, is what shapes our public lives, is what enables us to live lives of generosity, for others. 

Each of us who is baptized has received the Holy Spirit, who calls each one of us, like it did for Queen Elizabeth 70 years ago, into new ways of being and believing, new ways of living and loving. It calls us out of our little comfort zones to participate in the work of God, to transforming the face of the earth. And so today as we continue to pray for Her Majesty the Queen, we pray too for ourselves. 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of all your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love. 


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