“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.” (HM Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas message, 2000)
Following the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth, we have as a nation been reflecting upon her life and her legacy. As with any death, we are confronted with the beauty of life and the sorrow of death, all at once.
The Queen herself was faced with grief only last year, having lost her husband of almost 74 years, Prince Philip. However, like all of us who have placed our lives in the hands of Jesus, she had the indistinguishable hope of knowing that she would be reunited with him in eternity. This hope affords us an incredible strength in life; we are able to face the highs and lows of life because we each can say ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (1 Peter 5:10).
It is this strength of the Christian faith that the Queen expressed as her ‘framework’ for leading life as monarch. As arguably the most prominent woman in the world for 70 years, the Queen has made the most evangelical proclamations on a platform of such a size, in her age. Her annual Christmas speech has contained a concise, clear and practical message with two key points: a scriptural claim about God, and her own testimony as to its truth and impact, in her life.
This is exactly the manner in which the gospel instructs us to give witness: ‘But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15).
Moreover, when we examine the particular scriptures and personal applications the Queen shared each year, we can see that they were chosen to be relevant to her witness but also, to her time in history. As such, we can learn from the wisdom the Queen gained through a lifetime of faith, in our specific cultural moment.
Below is a quote we will benefit from contextualising in our own day to day journey, as sojourners and aliens on the earth in our time:
“I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life … He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.” (HM Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas message, 2008)
Through the impact of the recent pandemic, the cost of living crisis and a current war ongoing in Europe for the first time in recent history, we can be reminded by the Queen’s reflection in the year of the credit crunch, challenging us by Jesus’ example, to refuse fear and selfishness, and to reject self preservation and instead to serve in confidence that God is in control of what happens to us.