Dear Friends and Fellows of the Way,
Last Sunday’s commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of HM The Queen’s Accession (NOT “Ascension”) to the Throne brought forth some rather serious thoughts about where (not only the United Kingdom but) the world and particularly the West has travelled over those years. These are the years in which HM Herself has been by any account wholly faithful to her twenty-first birthday vow of dedication. And these were the words of that vow on the 21st April 1947, made one day after my own seventh birthday:
“...I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
"But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it."
These words concluded a remarkable speech that can be accessed from https://www.royal.uk/21st-birthday-speech-21-april-1947 . In particular I would like us to reflect on her words:
"We must not be daunted by the anxieties and hardships that the war has left behind for every nation of our commonwealth. We know that these things are the price we cheerfully undertook to pay for the high honour of standing alone, seven years ago, in defence of the liberty of the world. Let us say with Rupert Brooke: 'Now God be thanked who has matched us with this hour’.
"…. But in our time we may say that the British Empire has saved the world first, and has now to save itself after the battle is won."
The 21st of April this year will mark the 75th anniversary of that resounding speech, and it is fitting to offer some thoughts arising from it.
The 21 year old Princess not only made a vow but invited all who knew of it to “join in it” with her. Indeed, she so rightly said “I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me”.
When laws are passed in the name of Her Majesty - who both at her 21st Birthday as the Heir to the throne and at Her Coronation in the year after her Accession makes solemn pledges to God about Her faithfulness to Him and to those She is placed to serve - which run directly counter to the plainly revealed will of God, and indeed to the express words of Constitutions wherever they are written then we know that She has NOT BEEN JOINED IN her pledges by Her people and their political rulers, and owing to that failure of those who count themselves her people in one way or another she DID NOT HAVE STRENGTH to carry to fulfilment her solemn resolution alone.
It is not therefore surprising that the time has by no means yet appeared that, so far as the current century is concerned, God “has matched us with this hour”. May we pray urgently to be better matched with the “hours" that are to come, whether peaceful or perilous.
The Collect for Septuagesima, the third Sunday before Lent, is
O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Indeed, all is not lost even now. Even though we “are justly punished for our offences”, we still “may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness”, for the glory of the Name of the Lord. For as long as we are prayerless we will have neither the strength nor perception to wage with any success the wars that now threaten us, and will at the end be "justly punished”. But as yet the story is not ended. There is the grace-filled alternative still. Will we JOIN HM the Queen in taking that alternative, and so, together with all the other God-given benefits give Her at last the opportunity after all to fulfil Her pledge?
For directions about the services this Sunday the 13th February 2022, the Sunday called Septuagesima, please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com .
In faith in the holy Name of our Lord Jesus, who will continue to provide guidance by the Holy Spirit to all His people.