21 September 2017

Consider: … our response to the Queen’s speach.

Turkey & stuffing, presents under the tree and the telling of cracker jokes around the dinner table – these are all part and parcel of our traditional Christmas experience. For many, it would be akin to treason to fail to mention the watching of the Queen’s Speech as part of the festive routine. 

Approximately 9 million people from around the world settled down in front of the television at 3pm on Christmas Day to watch the Queen deliver her ‘Gracious Address’ (as it is officially called) to Britain and the Commonwealth. Every year the Queen pens her speech personally and does not seek any guidance from her government. She uses this opportunity to share her privately held thoughts and views with the public.

This year the content of her speech triggered a strong response from a great number of people. May I urge you, if you have not yet viewed the Queen’s Speech, to take ten minutes to watch it – it is still available online. I believe that the content, and her honest delivery, demonstrates the fact that we as Christians should be bolder in sharing our faith, and thus positively impact our communities. Consider this with me…

As expected the Queen’s message began with an overview of the main events throughout the year. She mentioned the great bravery of those who have faced terrible hardships over the previous 12 months, particularly those affected by the floods in Australia, the earthquakes in New Zealand and the mining disaster in Wales. She spoke of being inspired by people’s courage, hope and their ability to support one another in community and familial love. She also mentioned the wonderful ability we have to create and nurture friendship, pointing to her historically groundbreaking visit to Ireland earlier in the year as an example of this. Not surprisingly, she spoke of the marriages of her grandchildren, Prince William and Zara Phillips as an example of her own sense of family and relationships blossoming in 2011. However, the speech then took a somewhat surprising turn as the Queen turned her full attention to the delivery of a crystal clear gospel message. She unashamedly declared, “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.” It was this that drew a response from the listeners.

In conversations with friends, and from reading online responses, it is clear to me that a number of people from a non- Christian viewpoint found her words offensive as they felt she was preaching at them and was guilty of excluding both them and people with other religious views from her message. For many, they had hoped to hear a more magnanimous speech. They felt that the gospel message only showed how out-of-date both the Queen herself, and the whole concept of the monarchy are. Conversely, Christians reacted by congratulating the Queen on being bold enough to devote so much of her message to the declaration of the need for Jesus in our lives. One online response simply stated, “Good to see someone with the guts and conviction to mention something about Christ at Christ – mas.”

After viewing the speech I personally felt a definite desire to respond. Not so much through a sense of wanting to support the Queen, but rather due to the fact that I was powerfully reminded about the supreme sovereignty of God. Here was the Queen, who ‘reigns’ over Britain and the Commonwealth, humbly confessing that “we sometimes need saving from ourselves” and that “God sent a unique person…a Saviour with the power to forgive.” She used her position and her time with a captive audience to direct attention away from herself and to point towards the higher and ultimate sovereignty of God and the person of Jesus.

The Queen’s Speech prompted me to ask myself the question, ‘How many times have I been this bold about my faith in the previous 12 months?’ I wonder what impact we individually, and collectively, would have on our local communities if we set aside our desire to be ‘nice’, ‘politically correct’ and ‘unobtrusive’ and instead properly took on the mantle of being salt and light in the world. If we spoke with honest passion about our faith, surely we would spread more of God’s light and truth into the problems faced by our society in the present day.

In a recent speech at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, David Cameron stated that, when we look honestly at the problems in our country, “Moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore.” He has urged the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to be bolder in promoting moral values. Isn’t this a call to each one of us? The Bible encourages us to live bold lives that exemplify Christ, and thus be a witness to others around us. Jesus called us “the light of the world.” (Matt. 5v14). He furthers this statement by making it clear that we should not hide our light, instead we are told to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matt. 5v16). In other words, be bold about your faith – let others know your heartfelt beliefs and through this, let them be introduced to Jesus!

If the Queen and our Prime Minister are willing, in this day and age, to take a stand and promote Christian values, then surely we should take this opportunity to continue the momentum and keep both our own and our neighbour’s eyes fixed on God – our true sovereign, and on the way He has taught us to live.

Christine Cordner