Thought for the Week (07/06/2012)
A jubilee gift for the Queen
Bishop John shares his thoughts on the Queen's Jubilee celebrations:
Last weekend was the best national celebration I can remember. It was the best not just because of the scale of it, the magnificence of the concert, the wonder of the Pageant on the River Thames, the fun of the street parties or the beauty and reverence of the service at Worcester Cathedral and at St Paul's.
What moved me was seeing the genuine exhilaration and joy of so many rain-soaked people gathered both for the river Pageant and, most notably, outside Buckingham Palace and in the Mall on Tuesday afternoon.
It's the exuberance and joy that I found so affecting because of what it was about. Unusually in our society, what people were celebrating was the unstinting Christian service of Her Majesty the Queen over sixty years.
Sacrificial service is not something that is sufficiently recognised or lauded in our society. We are generally in hock to ‘celebrity' which, in comparison, is so very superficial.
It would be wonderful if the celebrations last weekend were not just a ‘flash in the pan' but turned out to be a turning point in our society when individualism began to be replaced by care and concern for the community. If that were to be the case we would all end up happier.
That's because giving ourselves to others, as the Queen has so wonderfully over the years, leads to our own happiness.
That's what Jesus was getting at when he told us to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Note that he doesn't tell us to love our neighbours any old how but as ourselves.
That's partly about treating others as we would like them to treat us but there's something more profound being implied here: that it is actually only in giving ourselves to others that we shall find the fulfilment and abundance of life we crave and which God yearns to give us.
If we were able as a society really to take to heart what it was that we were celebrating last weekend, and let it take root in our own lives, it would be a truly fitting Jubilee gift to the Queen.
It would, more significantly, transform our own lives and that of our entire nation for the better. I hope and pray that we are up for it.