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Queen Elizabeth reflects on 'sombre national mood' in official birthday message

Dear friends The Queen on her official birthday

In her address on her official birthday, the Queen reflected on a ‘sombre national mood’.  This part of her speech struck a sympathetic chord with the press as the only fitting headline to the story.  A shroud of sadness and bewilderment is hanging over our nation.  There has been one tragedy after another, some deliberately caused, others possibly accidental or as the result of negligence. Alongside the tragedies we have heard of great acts of heroism and generosity.  The empathy we have witnessed is perhaps the one positive to emanate from the last few months; to use Jo Cox’s much-quoted saying, ‘There is more that unites us than divides us.’

It is perhaps surprising that in this impersonal and individualistic age we can even speak of a mood that is ‘national’.  We need reminding that we are united to all people – whether or not they share our faith or our world view – by a common humanity.  This is something that runs like a gold strand through our being and has the power to unite despite the efforts of others to divide.  The sadness is that it can take tragic circumstances to make us look up from our tablets and smartphones and begin again to love our neighbour!

Christian spirituality reflects on every conceivable human emotion.  The book of Psalms (really the Bible’s hymn book and occupying pride of place in the prayer life of the church) speaks of sadness, sickness and despair alongside joy, healing, and hope.  This isn’t to give a balanced assessment of the human condition, but rather because Christianity looks out at a world and a humanity that is on the one hand created and hallowed by God but on the other sadly disfigured by how humans behave.  As she contemplates this paradox, the church prays for the wrong to be put right, for sin to end and for people to be united more closely one to another. This paradox, and the yearning for it to end in the triumphal reign of God, is nowhere more clearly articulated than in the Lord’s Prayer.  The Kingdom of God will be a place where sins are forgiven, daily bread is had by all and the name of God is hallowed.  There will be no hatred, no violence and (crucially) no death.  This prayer is for a world to come; but to have a truly authentic ring it must stir us to seek out and celebrate all that unites.

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