This is a copy of my article for the JUNE 2016 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

We are in a season of celebrating the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Elizabeth II. Her actual birthday, of course, is 21 April but the official celebrations take place this month beginning with a Service of Thanksgiving at Saint Paul’s Cathedral on Friday 10 June and the ‘Trooping of the Colour’ – the Queen’s birthday parade – on Saturday 11 June at Horse Guards Parade.  There is also a massive street party for 10,000 people planned for The Mall on Sunday 12 June. There will be bell ringing, festivals, exhibitions, music concerts, street parties and much more across our town, nation and Commonwealth.

At Emmanuel, we have an afternoon of celebrations on Saturday 11 June starting with lunch at 12.30 pm, followed by a Service of Thanksgiving at 1.30 pm. The Queen is Patron of the Mothers’ Union, who celebrate their 140th Anniversary in 2016, and we will include this in our service. We will have our regular Family Time craft afternoon from 2.00 pm, finishing off with Afternoon Tea from 3.30 pm, with a few surprises along the way. There is sure to something for family members of all ages – come for as long or as short as you are able. We will be giving each family a free copy of an excellent book: The Servant Queen and the King she serves.

Her Majesty the Queen has been a wonderful example of service above self during her reign. She gives us, in a world of ever increasing change, a sense of familiarity and stability. It goes without saying that her Christian faith has been instrumental to her life of service. In 1947, at the tender age of 21, she said in a radio broadcast to the nation:

“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 (Commonwealth) 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.” 

Our Queen has kept that promise faithfully, whether it be her daily watch on the affairs of state; her meetings with Prime Ministers, where she has been consulted and offered advice, along with attending many thousands of functions with her habitual grace and charm. One marvels to think of all the handshakes she has endured, the speeches she has listened to, the smiles she has made and the times she must have had to hold her tongue. Political commentator Andrew Marr points out: “There are no reliable recorded incidents of the Queen losing her temper, using bad language, or refusing to carry out a duty expected of her.”

The Queen has demonstrated unswerving service, duty and perseverance throughout her life and she has based this on her deep and committed Christian faith. As the Supreme Governor of the Church of England she prays daily and attends church weekly. In the foreword to the book mentioned above, she writes: “I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love.  I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”

This prayer has been issued for the Queen’s birthday celebrations (why not use this on 11/12 June?):

Heavenly Father, as we celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, receive our heartfelt thanks for all that you have given her in these ninety years and for all that she has given to her people. Continue, we pray, your loving purposes in her, and as you gather us together in celebration, unite us also in love and service to one another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Her Majesty Elizabeth II we have a great Queen, but her greatness comes from the fact that she has trusted in an even greater King.

Happy birthday, Ma’am!