There she was: a tiny figure, a little frail, holding on to her walking stick, emerging on to the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
Ruth and I were very privileged to be there on Thursday. It was a scene that we shall never forget.
The crowds cheered. Countless flags waved creating a sea of red, white and blue that stretched the length of the Mall. It was a profoundly moving moment.
Each year on the anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne the Church of England prays that that the Sovereign will ‘always possess the hearts of her people.’
It was plain as I stood on the Mall among that vast throng of people that the Accession Day prayer had been well and truly answered. There was no doubt Queen Elizabeth the Second possessed the hearts of her people.
Here she was, 96 years old, still reigning after seventy years of service, our good and glorious Queen, the centre of the love and affection of her people, having abundantly kept the promise that she made an astonishing seventy-five years ago at the age of 21 when she said:
I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service...
For me that attitude of service was summed up by that scene in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where the Queen sat quite alone, wearing a face mask, in a near deserted chapel at the funeral of her beloved husband, Prince Philip.
No for her the special treatment she could easily have requested. Instead
she opted to live under the same restrictions that all her subjects were experiencing as a result of the pandemic. She acted in solidarity with her people. She was one of us, sharing in what we were all facing at this time of national crisis, as her parents did at the time of the Second World War.
In our second reading Jesus says: ‘the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant’ and he said to the disciples ‘I am among you as one who serves.’
Jesus showed a different way of being a leader. By being a servant. The Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the eternal Son of God, declared ‘I have come not to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.’
He was the true servant king who gave his life for his people.
Surely our nation, surely the Commonwealth, has been blessed to have as its head someone who follows her master, the Lord Jesus Christ, in having that attitude of a servant.
On numerous occasions the Queen has testified to her own deeply held Christian faith that has strengthened her, sustained her, and guided her through her life.
In her 2014 Christmas broadcast she told the nation
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace….. is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness
And the following year she said
Billions of people follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives
And then she added ‘I am one of them...”
Thank God for our servant queen, Queen Elizabeth.
Thank God for all that she has given to this nation. Thank God for the Queen’s constant faith in Christ and her willingness publicly to testify that faith.
In the many decisions she must make, in all the responsibilities she bears, may it be that God’s Spirit inspires her and his wisdom guide her.
May it be that the wisdom described in our first reading will be the Queen’s guiding light in her life, and may it be ours, too:
“I am Wisdom, I am better than jewels; nothing you want can compare with
I am Wisdom, and I have insight; I have knowledge and sound judgment
I help kings to govern and rulers to make good laws.
Every ruler on earth governs with my help, officials and nobles alike.
God save the Queen. Long live our noble Queen.
Let us pray