A highlight of Christmas day for me is to watch the Queen’s speech. It isn’t a highlight shared by many of my family, but I figure 6.4 million people (the number that watched with me on Christmas day) can’t be wrong. I love that in recent years she has taken the opportunity to speak more openly about the faith that she has and how it has sustained her throughout her reign. Amongst the festivities, excitement and food, I find it comforting to take a moment to remember the reason Christmas is celebrated at all.
The internet response to the speech seemed to fall into two camps dependent on where you found the commentary. The evangelical side championed the faith aspect of the speech, thankful that we have a monarch who is a Christian, who bases her life on the values that we hold dear.
On the other side, there was a growing number of people very vocal, almost angry in places that she could speak of the country pulling together, and being one nation, whilst sat in front of a gold piano.
I began to ponder the perception of monarchy in general, and in this country in particular. It seems that the royal family is a bit like marmite. You either love or hate them. You either find them essential to “being British”, or you think that the time for people being placed on a pedestal is for a bygone age and we no longer need them. Even if you love them, it is usually due to a fascination for a life that most of us can only begin to imagine what it is like.
The fact is that for most, the royal family exists only as a figurehead for those who truly hold power. Even around this time of year, when the Queen bestows honours on those who have made a difference to society, we recognise that it isn’t really the Queen who decides who is worthy of honour.
As Christians we are taught and told to share the Kingdom of Heaven with people we meet. Many of us find this difficult. I wonder if sometimes the reason for this is we have a distorted view of royalty. You see, a Kingdom is the dominion of the King. If we don’t feel that Kings and Queens are relevant to todays society, how are we going to represent the King of Heaven to those who need to experience Him? It is difficult to get others excited about a concept that we don’t ourselves believe in. God is much more that a concept. The Kingdom of Heaven is one of righteousness – yet our perception of a King or Queen is simply one of a figurehead with no real power to change things that they see as unjust.
The Kingdom of Heaven is one of Peace – yet devoid of authority, todays monarchy has little power to bring about peace.
The Kingdom of Heaven is one of Joy – yet the royals we see in the media rarely look joyful. They carry the weight of rule with very serious faces.
The Kingdom of Heaven is one of love – yet the Kings and Queens that we see today are so distant from real life, that it is impossible to feel real love for them, or to feel that they love us.
Only those in the King’s inner circle know the affairs of the King. Only those who spend time with Him, enquire of Him, will be told His secrets. Without intimate knowledge of the King’s affairs, we will never be able to represent Him to the world.
May I encourage you, at the beginning of this New Year, to spend more time in the Presence of the King. The King that we represent in public is more accurate the more time we spend in His presence out of the limelight. Only an accurate representation of the King will encourage a country apathetic towards Royalty to want to encounter Him. Only an encounter will change this nation.