Kia tau te rangimārie ki a koutou,
We have heard so much in recent days and will hear even more about the life of Queen Elizabeth II. From the time her death was announced a great deal has been said about her life of service and devotion to duty; and the fact that as a 21-year-old she said that her whole life, long or short, would be devoted to serving her people.
People have spoken about her fortitude and her courage. We have heard about her grueling travel and work schedule and that she never refused to carry out a duty expected of her. Of all that has been said, two things stand out for me, her constant sense of duty and her devotion to God.
In 2016 the New Zealand Bible Society published a wonderful book entitled “The Servant Queen and the King she serves.” I was given a copy of that book at the time and remember thinking, “one day the Queen will die, I will probably have to say something about her, this book will be very helpful.” It has indeed been very helpful in understanding this extraordinary woman.
Queen Elizabeth knew well that Jesus Christ was the Ruler of the Kings and Queens of the earth. She was Queen of Great Britain, of New Zealand and other countries, but she also knew that she was the Servant Queen and that she served Christ the King.
I’m sure that over all those decades of her reign the question has been asked about what the secret was for her remarkable consistency of character and her extraordinary contribution to Britain, the Commonwealth, and the global community. She answered the question herself when she once said:
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God…I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
We can draw inspiration from those words…to see each day as a new beginning, to know that the only way to live is to try to do what is right, to give our best in all that the day brings and to put our trust in God.
Her Majesty’s life was not about herself. There is no doubt that her trust in Jesus shaped her life and work, and her often quoted words from Scripture give us an insight to a life lived for others. She often spoke of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and once said: “The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us of our duty to our neighbor. We should try to follow Christ’s clear instruction at the end of that story – go and do the same yourself”.
I am sure Queen Elizabeth renewed her commitment to a life of service and dedication to duty over and over again, in many different circumstances, always anchoring it in Christ. It is the same for all of us; we all have commitments, many lifelong to marriage, priesthood, family, religious life, that require that daily conversion of heart which is part of our lives as followers of Jesus.
In another of her Christmas Messages, Queen Elizabeth said:
“Many will have been inspired by Jesus’ simple but powerful teaching: love God and love your neighbour as yourself- in other words, treat others as you would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose. His simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since. He showed that what people are and what they do, does matter and does make a difference.”
Our anointing in Baptism and Confirmation filled us with the power of the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit gives spirituality a practical purpose in our lives, enabling us through our love and service to turn the world upside down, knowing that our gospel-centered lives do make a difference whatever our age or state of life.
Nāku noa. Nā
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