"... give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5.18
Yesterday in our regular church services we observed Freedom Sunday and Harvest Thanksgiving. Then, in the evening, some of us gathered with for an official memorial service for Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. How to make sense of it all? Well actually, a certain coherence did emerge... Among the blessings of harvest which we celebrated was the fruit of freedom which we enjoy - in stark contrast to 360 million fellow Christians in other parts of the world, whose lives are curtailed on account of their determination to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus. We continue to pray for them and to campaign on their behalf and - as the International Justice Mission would insist - we commit to prayer and action on behalf all who are unfairly treated, whatever their faith and wherever they live.
Over recent weeks, since the death of Queen Elizabeth, we have come to realise how much we owe, of the relative peace and security we enjoy in the UK, to our constitutional monarchy. Having a benign authority figure, to whom a democratically elected government is accountable, provides for social stability - though it does not guarantee it. The essential ingredient is for the throne is occupied by a monarch who is blessed with integrity, wisdom and longevity. That we enjoyed these qualities in Elizabeth II is indeed a cause for gratitude - on a national and international scale. It is also why we must pray for our new monarch - King Charles - that he would be endowed with the same gifts as his late mother who, as her reign progressed, was increasingly expressive of the source of those gifts and the fount of all blessings.