Tuesday, 25 December 2012
The Queen once again points her subjects to Jesus Christ
Building on the spirit of togetherness and friendship captured in 2012 by the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee celebrations she then praised the spirit of service displayed by the armed forces, emergency services and health workers before saying that all of us should reach out beyond ‘familiar relationships’ to serve others.
But then she really cut to the chase (see full text here).
'At Christmas I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story. A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship the Christ child. From that day on he has inspired people to commit themselves to the best interests of others.
This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son "to serve, not to be served". He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.'
Not content to point to Jesus simply as an example to follow, she drove home the point of responding personally to him:
'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".'
Last year the Queen similarly pointed people to Jesus Christ by using another familiar hymn:
‘Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: “Fear not”, they urged, “we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
“For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.”
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.
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.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.
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.’
At a time when so many use authority to exercise power over others, we are truly blessed to have a monarch who knows where true power lies.
And in an age when even many Christian leaders seem to find it difficult to be faithful to the Gospel, we can be thankful that our sovereign does not hesitate to tell it like it is, and graciously points people to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as the one with the power to forgive, to whom we owe our very hearts.