In the Year of her Golden Jubilee, and reflecting on the death of her own sister and mother, the Queen’s message to the Commonwealth at Christmas 2002 contained these words –
‘I know just how much I rely on my own 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.
Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.’
As we celebrate the Queens’ 90th birthday perhaps we could do no better than reflect upon that hope and the strength that it brings.
When Christians speak of ‘hope’ we do not use the word in the same way as: “I hope to win the lottery”, or, “I hope to get a promotion”, or, as some may say this week as they look at the Queen, “I hope that I’m in such good nick and able to do so much when I get to 90!” Or maybe: “I just hope I get to 90!”
No, when Christians speak about hope we are speaking first and foremost about an assurance that we already possess and which equips us to face life’s challenges with confidence. We are not speaking about something that might happen in the future if we play our cards right, but about something that has happened in Jesus Christ and has changed the course of human history and therefore our history and destiny as well. In Jesus Christ our future is secure, kept safe for us no matter what.
We already have the promise that sins are forgiven; we already have the promise that death is defeated; we already have the promise that evil and corruption do not hold sway.
We still face these things; but we face them with a joyful heart because we know that they cannot have the last word. What we see in Jesus Christ – particularly in his death and resurrection – show us that God has already plumbed the depths of what it is to be human, has encountered the powers of evil and darkness, and has risen triumphant, thereby assuring us a share in that triumph; not only us, but the whole creation.
This the hope the Queen refers to. Today, celebrating her 90th birthday, it is interesting to observe that she, who is in so many ways the centre of our national life, never chose or sought office, dedicates her life to service – even at 90! - and has her centre somewhere else; for in her daily life and work the Queen looks for sustenance and hope to her faith – the faith that has shaped the history of this land and can shape it again - acknowledging that it is here that she finds resources to be hopeful.
On her 90th birthday it is here that people of faith and goodwill can unite, not only in wishing her a happy birthday, but in praying that the same attitude of service and hopefulness and rootedness may be seen in our lives; in the decisions we take, and in the way we deal with each other – trying to do what is right; taking the long view; and trusting in God