Jubilee - What A Great Word
Sunday 3rd June 2012The Archbishop's column in The Sun today talks about Jubilee, Parties and Deacons and Beacons! His full column follows....
Jubilee! What a great word.
In the Hebrew Scriptures it means a year of rest, during which slaves were set free, property restored to its former owners, and the land left unworked. No wonder they were happy!
But the meaning we know best is from a word meaning joy, jubilation, celebration. And what a great time of rejoicing we’re having this year - not only in these four nations of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, but in many countries across the world, where Her Majesty the Queen is loved and respected.
Sixty years ago in a Ugandan village, the BBC World Service brought the Coronation Service into our home. I was nearly 3 years old, and I remember we stood up and joined in the singing of the British Empire anthem, as my father called it. We sang it in Luganda: Ayi Katonda Kuuma Kabaka Atufuga: God safeguard the Sovereign, our Ruler.
In a broadcast to the nation and empire at that time, the Queen said,
“My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family.”
The winds of change swept away the British Empire, but the Queen’s faith in God who lived among us in Jesus Christ, her love of the global family, her service and commitment to duty, her humility and loyalty, helped to turn the ‘imperial family’ into the Commonwealth of Nations – of which she is the Head.
Ten years ago, in her address to Parliament, to mark the start of her Golden Jubilee Celebration in 2002, she said, “Change is a constant; managing it has become an expanding discipline. The way we embrace it defines our future.”
She began her reign as someone with a venturesome faith, ready to expect the unexpected. And she has embraced change with courage and fortitude as it came along.
The gardeners at Bishopthorpe palace have planted a flower bed in honour of the celebration. It shows the dates of the Queens reign, against a background of the Union flag. The beautiful flowers will grow and blossom and finally fade. Things, people, we, our world, constantly change: God doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Everybody loves a party
Everybody loves a party, don’t they? Well, nearly everybody.
Jesus told a story once about a man who threw a great party and invited all his friends. But one-by-one they found excuses not to go and they cried off:
One had just bought some property and wanted to check it out, another wanted to try out some new oxen on his farm, and another just wanted to stay at home with his wife. The man was very disappointed – but he didn’t cancel the party. He just went out and invited all the people he met in the streets, whether they knew him or not, to come in and enjoy it anyway. It’s a story of the great celebration God wants us to join in by accepting his invitation to be part of his family. He has opened the invitation to absolutely everyone.
We had a wonderful party here at Bishopthorpe Palace last night – bands, food, music, dancing and fireworks. Hundreds of people came and had a fantastic time. This afternoon there’s a great outdoor banquet for all the kids down the main street of the village; it will be a great feast for all who come. All around the country, people will be flocking to street parties, joining together with their family and neighbours to celebrate this Jubilee. Life may be difficult, but this is a time to find a way of being good neighbours and share some joy together. Happy Jubilee!
Deacons and Beacons
The other big event I’m leading here today is the Ordination of new Priests at York Minster. These are men and women who have been called by God to serve the church and the community in a very special way. They were ordained Deacon last year, and now they are to be Priests.
When I was ordained as a deacon, the bishop asked my daughter Grace, who was four years old at the time, if she knew what a Deacon was. She thought for a moment and then said, “I know. It’s an old fashioned thing which you light up to help others find the way.”
That’s a good description of a deacon, of a Christian – a beacon!
This weekend 4000 beacons are being lit all over the UK, and the Commonwealth. How marvellous it would be to see the pattern of those celebration lights spreading across the world.
As the Book of Daniel says, in the Old Testament,
Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.