For the last four days, Great Britain has been throwing a party – a really big party – for Queen Elizabeth as the nation celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years on the throne. I have only caught glimpses of the pageantry, but Janet and I were talking the other day at breakfast and Janet mentioned that the British really know how to celebrate; and she was right. The British have the pomp and circumstance down to a science. And while I am not usually taken in by great expressions of this type, I was mesmerized by the the way these several days of celebration have been pulled off.
There were more than 1000 boats in the flotilla that welcomed the Queen on the Thames River, in spite of the rainy weather – and the breakfast in Westminister Abby was also attended by more than 1000 guests as well. Then there were numerous events around London and the rest of the country, culminating in an outdoor concert featuring Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, as well as many other notable British performers, including Sir Thomas John Woodward, better know to us as Tom Jones.
The festivities started with a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral and for four days, the nation celebrated in its traditionally British style. The media had predicted that the public may not share in the excitement anticipated by the event planners, but the media was wrong. The nation loves the Queen and even if her son, Charles, seems to be on occasion divisive, the nation also loves William and his new wife, Kate. so it would appear that the monarchy is in good hands, at least for the foreseeable future.
Several other noteworthy things I noticed during the Jubilee celebration were mentioned by others as well. For example, the British people take a great amount of comfort that the Queen has been on the throne for so long. And they love the job that she has done – in fact, they feel indebted to her for all the years of service that she has given to the Empire. When Queen Elizabeth was still very young, assuming the throne at the age of 26, she pledged her entire life to the service of the British people. She renewed that vow many years later, and the nation was brought to tears by her undying loyalty and devotion to the British people. That’s quite some testimonial.
The final concert was capped by an appearance of the Queen and selected members of the royal family. Prince Charles spoke on behalf of his mother, who did not speak directly to the audience. He spoke as a son, and as a subject of the realm – addressing the Queen as both Her Majesty and “Mummy” at one point in his remarks. Both Elton John and Paul McCartney nodded in agreement with his statements.
The only piece missing from the celebration was the presence of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was hospitalized with a bladder infection. Nonetheless, the crowd gave him a roaring round of applause for his contribution to the realm as well. It was quite touching.
At the conclusion of all the accolades for the Queen and her husband, there was a large fireworks celebration above Buckingham Palace, which was bathed in red, white and blue lights. The media announced that this was the third Jubilee the Queen has celebrated; her Silver Jubilee at 25 years, the Golden Jubilee at 50 years and now the Diamond Jubilee at 60 years. The country is already planning her Platinum Jubilee for 70 years of service, to be held in 2022. You have to acknowledge that those British know how to throw a party….
While I was watching all the pomp and circumstance, I wondered what it would be like to be the object of all that celebration. But, of course you know by now that when I talk about thrones, palaces and royalty, there is one place that throws a better party than great Britain. And it isn’t on this earth. Moreover, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have already been the guest of honor at such a party.
The Bible makes it quite clear, through several parables told by Jesus, that heaven celebrates – in fact, rejoices – when a sinner repents. That means that when each of us accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, heaven and the angels celebrated. The verse for tonight affirms that God loves it when anyone comes to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Luke 15:10 tells us, “Luke 15:10 … In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that you are more valuable to God than the Queen is to England. After all, God has been on the throne much longer than 60 years and He has dedicated Himself to love us and have a relationship with us for all eternity. My prayer is that you will take advantage of His offer. Because there is nothing like a party thrown in heaven – and you won’t believe the fireworks! Have a great day in the Lord – Grace and peace…