Letter from the Minister.

Rev Phil Summers

Rev Phil Summers

The Queen!

One of the constants in my life has been the presence of our Queen, Elizabeth II. This year we celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. It seems only yesterday that I was joining in with street parties in Leicestershire at the age of thirteen to celebrate the Silver Jubilee in 1977. I give thanks to God for the Queen’s tireless, committed service to our country over the past seventy years.

Having said that, I'm not necessarily a convinced monarchist. (The seeds for that were sown in ’77 with the punk revolution and the BBC banning The Sex Pistols’ ‘God save the Queen’. Which by rights should have been number one in Jubilee week.) But I’m not exactly a republican either. I have concerns about the system but, along with many others, my doubts have been assuaged over the years by the dedication and wisdom of Elizabeth II. Not all monarchs have been as good. Indeed, in the seventeenth century we beheaded one. Charles I’s high taxes and enforced religion being cited as reasons for plunging the country into Civil War. In previous civil wars the Houses of York and Lancaster fought over who was to rule until the country was brought together under the Tudor dynasty. Henry VIII, the most famous of Tudor monarchs, was a tyrant, completely changing our view of religion, the distribution of land and our foreign affairs, ruthlessly crushing his enemies. Monarchs have not always been good. And so, I say again; I give thanks to God for Elizabeth II.

God was not keen on monarchs and when the people of Israel wanted a King (like other nations had) he felt rejected. And in his frustration, God outlines to the elderly Samuel what the problem was with Kings.

1 Samuel 8: 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

God is upset with the people of Israel for he is their King. Our God is King, maker of heaven and earth, lover of our souls. God is our King, whom we are commanded to love with heart, mind, soul and strength. Earthly monarchs are not always good, they do not always seek our wellbeing, they do not always love us as they should – but the God shown to us in Jesus does these things. In Jesus we meet a good God, a good Monarch, who loves us and wants the best for us.

The last verse of the national anthem says: “May she defend our laws, and ever give us cause, to sing with heart and voice, God save the Queen”

In her reign Queen Elizabeth II has tried to serve, with the given restraints of constitutional monarchy, to the best of her ability, echoing the call of Christ for us to love as he first loved us. Along with God I am not convinced by the concept of monarchy, but I will praise God and give thanks for Elizabeth II for she has given us cause to be thankful.