Platinum Jubilee and Pentecost: June 5th 2022 The Gathering – Hawes
What a wonderful and memorable time we have been having over the last few days as we celebrate as a nation an historic moment in our history. We have seen images of the Queen and her family life that have never been shared before, we have heard tributes from so many that have met her or worked with her both here and from overseas. They have spoken in so many different ways of their admiration for her, of her character and integrity and her steadfast nature.
Amongst all the different experiences she has had, all the challenges she has faced, all the people she has met, all the responsibilities she has fulfilled and all the scrutiny she has endured, one thing has remained constant; her faith, love and trust in her personal saviour Jesus Christ.
In her own words: “I know just how much I rely on my 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.”
The number of years that the Queen has reigned is quite amazing but, like all of our lives, out of her control. What is within her control, like all of our lives, is the manner in which she has chosen to live her life in those years. It is in that decision that I believe we can all give thanks to God for her steadfastness, her faithfulness, her integrity and her commitment to duty.
It is for these qualities that many world leaders have looked to the Queen as a role model in statesmanship. An example of how it should be done; their inspiration. Where does she draw hers?
In her own words: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ … is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model.”
This is where our two celebrations today come together. Jubilee and Pentecost. The promise of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit and the experience of the disciples in the upper room as they received the Holy Spirit was a personal life changing experience that then became a world changing one.
It happened then, it has happened countless times since and it will continue to happen to every believer who wants to receive that promise of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is real and to be known and to be experienced – the Holy Spirit resides in those who place their trust in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit makes a difference – He turns dead religion and rules into life and relationship. The Holy Spirit is to be welcomed and received. He resides in our Queen and it is this fundamental fact that has made her who she is.
If you saw anything of the concert outside the palace you will likely have marvelled, as we did, at the breadth of its astonishing creativity, energy and joy. As I was watching I was thinking, ‘this is how the Church is meant to be’ – full of joy and love and passion. That kind of joy is infectious – it changes situations and it changes people.
There will always be some who don’t see it or feel it, they don’t understand it or are afraid of it …. Our reading from Acts confirms this – There was one particular lady who was repeatedly caught on camera during the performances who seemed impervious to the joy of the occasion. Those witnessing that first outpouring who couldn’t understand the joy, the power and the freedom that the people were experiencing, derided it as drunkenness. Those witnessing it today who don’t understand God’s joy, power or freedom often call it ‘Happy Clappy’ – sadly, far too often that comment comes from people within the church! What’s the alternative I wonder? ‘Sad and silent?’
Jumping up and down or making a noise is not a compulsory sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit but the Joy of the Lord is and we can express that in so many different ways as the Lord uses us to make a difference in the world around us.
Look to our Queen as an example. Steadfast and faithful, gently strong and courageous she lives and speaks of her relationship with Jesus Christ and by doing so … makes a difference. Not in her own strength, but in the strength of God who is living within her.
God is busy. To quote CS Lewis from the Narnia Chronicles; ‘Aslan is on the move’. I am experiencing more and more opportunities to share a simple comment with others about God’s love and it makes a difference. I know you are too and it is making a difference. The more we do it … the more opportunities appear for us to do it again. I had a long walk home last night from the centre of Hawes – the Lord just seemed to be placing folk in my path that needed to hear a very simple message. God loves you. Connect or re-connect with that love. He is not hiding. It’s not about religion and rules … it’s about relationship with Him. As I share that simple truth I’m reminded of its power in my own life and the need to keep the main thing about the main thing.
We need to ask for the power of God’s Holy Spirit every day to fill us afresh, because we’re all leaky! We need his power within us so that we can be the witness and the disciples of Jesus that we are meant to be through the way we behave, speak and respond as well as in direct sharing of what we know of His love. And then; to do as our Queen does … to put our trust in God.