Friday, May 13, 2022

The Queen of England

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

This week the Queen was missing from the State Opening of Parliament. During her long reign of 70 years the Queen has only been absent from this annual event on two other occasions, the last one being in 1963. This is the first time the Queen has passed this responsibility to a family member. It was an action with great significance. Prince Charles, the future King, carried out the duties with Prince William sitting close by. It was an brief preview of the future, God willing.

Previously, the Queen had been absent from the Remembrance Service commemorations at the Cenotaph in London after spraining her back, leaving other royal family members to honour the UK’s war dead in public. A wreath was laid on her behalf by her son, Charles, the Prince of Wales.

The palace said the Queen, head of the armed forces, had missed only six other Cenotaph ceremonies during her long reign. She had made the decision not to attend “with great regret” and was “disappointed” to miss it. The rendition of “God Save the Queen” during the service was notably loud as the crowds of spectators joined in with gusto.
The Queen, who lived through the second world war, attaches great importance to the service and to commemorating the sacrifices made by servicemen and women. As the custodians of Remembrance, every year, The Royal British Legion calls on the nation to unite in commemorating Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph Service and Parade in Whitehall.

“Cenotaph”meaning an empty tomb, stands for all those who defended us to their death; and its emptiness signposts the hope that their death is not their end. "At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them” are words echoed in countless villages, towns and cities across our nation on Remembrance Sunday.

The urge to remember is one of the most powerful human impulses. It kindles our imagination and rouses our emotions to show gratitude towards those who placed themselves between us and danger, quite deliberately if they were in an Armed Service.

Late each year seems to be the time that brings us face to face with mortality. Our attitude to death shows in different ways. When we are confronted by difficult choices we often hear the advice of a friend, “Well, you only live once” or “You get just one shot at life”. The gist of that advice is that we have to make the most of the here and now. In it there is little sense that what we do this side of the grave has any consequences for what might happen on the other side.

It is an issue that early Christians wrestled with, especially when they were being brutally martyred. “Why go through all that cruelty?” “Why not renounce your faith?” It prompted Paul to write that “if for this life only we’ve put our trust in Christ then we of all people are most to be pitied.” It was their faith in a life beyond that shaped the first Christians’ attitude to death and how they then lived.

The late American evangelist Billy Graham often had the opportunity to visit veterans’ hospitals. He would go from bed to bed, talking and praying with the patients. Many of these people felt neglected, having lost limbs, eyesight or health in service to their country. Some had been in the hospital for years and would remain there the rest of their lives. Billy Graham once said, “What a price they have paid for all of us. I once talked to a man who had lost a leg in World War II. When I remarked about the price he had paid, he said, ‘It was worth it, wasn’t it?’”

The message for Remembrance Sunday is the message that lies at the core of the Christian faith - that death is not the end because Jesus has defeated death. He placed Himself between us and danger quite deliberately, so if His love in dying for us and the price He paid on that "Old Rugged Cross" means anything to us, then we will also be able to say, “It was worth it, wasn’t it?”

Written by Peter Francis for Messages with Meaning (16/11/21) & Your542Day 


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