In the book of Kings we are told that the Lord appeared to Solomon at Gibeon in a dream and said “Ask what I should give you,”
Solomon answered, “O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil, for who can govern this your great people.” The Lord answered Solomon’s prayer and his forty year reign was famed for its wisdom and justice.
During this time of celebrating the ninetieth birthday of Queen Elizabeth II I wonder what it is that she asks the Lord to give her. If Solomon’s wisdom reveals the gifts the Lord gave to him to govern the nation well, then what are the characteristics of Queen Elizabeth that reveal the gifs given by the Lord to her? At her coronation on 2nd June 1953, Elizabeth said these words:
‘I am sure that this my Coronation, is not the symbol of a power and a splendour that are gone but a declaration of our hopes for the future, and for the years I may, by God’s Grace and Mercy, be given to reign and serve you as your Queen.’
Anyone who has seen even a small part of the tributes spoken and programmes made which give an insight into the life of this often guarded and private person will soon come to realise that the characteristics which mark Queen Elizabeth’s life, let alone her reign, are gracious service.
One cannot but be impressed, in this her ninetieth year, at the still heavy round of royal engagements that she carries out in a week, from the state opening of Parliament to just meeting the crowds. Her presence, wherever it may be, brings to people and situations a significance and graciousness which reminds us of the dignity of each one of us, whoever we are, and the respect that commands.
I wonder if the Queen Elizabeth’ prayer to the Lord on this her ninetieth birthday is still for gracious service in these changing and demanding times. May this time not only be one of thanksgiving for her gracious service but may we also recognise that in her we see the calling of all Christians, to follow in the footsteps of a servant King who graciously serving others and, in our own way and through our own means, seek this to be our prayer too.
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