Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Our Servant Queen

June 2022

Dear Friends

On 6th February this year Queen Elizabeth II became the first-ever British monarch to have reigned for 70 years.  The Jubilee weekend will be a focus of our thanksgiving for her Majesty’s long reign marked by humble and dedicated service.

At her coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1953 the Queen was presented with several items that are so valuable that they are normally kept behind two-inch-thick bullet-proof glass in the Tower of London.

She received a beautiful gold six-inch sphere with a jewelled cross on the top.   The Archbishop presented it with these words, “Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.”

She was handed a sceptre with a diamond-encrusted cross, as a symbol of the authority to rule that God was entrusting to her (Romans 13:1).

She was given a sword, because rulers are charged by God with the punishment of wrong-doers (Romans 13:4).

And our Queen was given a crown topped by a cross because (as the Queen said herself in her 2011 Christmas Day broadcast), “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness and greed.  God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.”

Alongside these costly objects the Queen was also given a book with these words, “We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.”  What book could be more valuable than the Crown Jewels?  Only one.  A Bible.

In a foreword to a book to mark her 90th birthday her Majesty wrote, “In 1952 I asked the people … to pray for me as I prepared to dedicate myself to their service at my Coronation.   I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for His steadfast love.  I have indeed seen His faithfulness.” 

And here is the request that Princess Elizabeth made before her Coronation: “Pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.” 


Graham Burrows

Thursday, 5 May 2022


May 2022

Dear Friends

I am just old enough to remember the deployment of ‘Green Goddesses’, fire engines from the 1950s brought out of retirement and driven by soldiers in 1977 while regular fire brigades were on strike.

Some people think of Jesus in a similar way.  40 days after his resurrection he was withdrawn from active service on this planet and returned to base.  There he waits, still, for the day when our world is in such need that he will be brought out of retirement and will return to sort things out. 

But ‘retired’ (and bored or restless?) is not at all how the Bible speaks of Jesus’ life now.  Yes, he sits at the Father’s right hand because his great battle on the cross is over and his triumph is complete.  But his seat is not a deckchair or a recliner; it’s a throne from which he directs the course of world history.  When Jesus ascended it was to the place of all power and authority over heaven and earth (Philippians 2:9).  Jesus sustains everything in this universe by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3).  He has sent out his heralds to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19) by announcing that he is graciously willing to offer peace and forgiveness now (Acts 2:38) before he returns ‘to judge the living and the dead’.

I think some Christians prefer the idea of Jesus in passive retirement because they can then avoid difficult questions about the terrible suffering in the world on his watch.  Jesus is, they think, a loving and sympathetic grandfather figure who can only wish that the world was a happier place.

But what if the Bible is right and Jesus is God and Lord?  Then we will have to re-think our ideas about everything: what our lives are for, where the world is heading, and what is the good, loving and just way to rule the world, because the Lord Jesus clearly thinks very differently from us about how to do the job.


Graham Burrows