It was Tuesday, I was nine years old, in Grade Five and we were living on the outskirts of Craik, Saskatchewan. I got up to get ready for school, turned on the radio and heard only stately orchestral music. I tried another station, then another; it was the same on all stations.
The Eight o’clock news informed us that King George VI had died and his 25 year old daughter, Princess Elizabeth was now Queen Elizabeth II. It was the custom at that time to sing God Save the King and O Canada at the beginning of the school day. That morning we sang God Save the Queen for the first time.
Seventy years have passed and Elizabeth II is still queen. Today is the beginning of her Platinum Jubilee year.
Of course, the Queen has only a symbolic and ceremonial function. Or is that all? As I have listened to her Christmas messages over the years there is something more that comes through. In every message she acknowledges her trust in a Sovereign that is higher than herself, a quiet trust in Almighty God that gives hope for the future. That is something we seldom, if ever, hear from world leaders today.
Queen Elizabeth does not present herself as stern and haughty, she is calm, warm, down to earth, speaking of things that touch all of our lives. That is something reassuring in tumultuous times.
I was an Anglican in those days; worship services followed the order given in the Book of Common Prayer. Every worship service included a prayer that included words like this:
We humbly beseech thee to bless our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and all who are set in authority under her; that they may order all things in wisdom, righteousness, and peace, to the honour of thy holy Name, and the good of thy Church and people.
A prayer like that directs our attention away from politics and towards the overall good of our land. The Bible instructs us to pray for kings and all that are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Jeremiah 29:7 goes so far as to say: “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”
The more we allow ourselves to become politicized, the less we are apt to feel prompted to pray for those in authority. Isn’t that getting things backwards? Is it possible that the troubles that seem so plain to us in our governments are at least in part due to our failure to pray earnestly for those in authority? It should be an integral part of Christian faith to believe that prayers are more powerful than politics and protests.