Whether you’re an ardent fan of royalty or not, you can’t grudge our Queen a platinum jubilee celebration. Seventy years of faithful service is a real achievement, and in a day when duty and sacrifice are not highly esteemed the Queen is a great example of commitment to her coronation vow and resolute dedication to her role. She would be the first to give the credit to God’s grace and to Jesus, the bedrock of her Christian faith.
Jubilee has come to mean a big celebration, but its first mention is in the Bible. Every 50th year was to be a Jubilee, a kind of reset for the people of God. We read about it in Leviticus 25. The law provided for restoration socially, economically and even environmentally, as slaves were set free, land was returned to the original owners, and the earth was rested for a year. Yes, it was radical, and there seems to be no evidence that the Israelites actually kept it. We shouldn’t be surprised because we all fail to keep God’s laws.
When we look at our world today, we see our relationships with God, our fellow human beings and creation itself, are all marred by sin. Most people realise that something major has gone wrong but feel helpless to bring change. Many know fragmentation in their own lives, aware of personal psychological issues, unresolved emotional pain and mental health problems. There’s a lostness, a brokenness that yearns for reconciliation and healing.
How great our need of a Saviour!
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he announces ‘the year of God’s favour’, or Jubilee, foretold by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 61). Jesus unpacks God’s vision of freedom and renewal and clearly identifies himself as the Messiah who fulfils this Jubilee. “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4 v21).
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee of her 70 year reign coincides with Pentecost, when after the ascension of Christ to the throne of God 2000 years ago, he pours out his Holy Spirit, writing his law on our hearts and empowering us to live out a countercultural Jubilee lifestyle, renouncing greed and selfishness.
On Thursday evening our long weekend of celebrations began with the lighting of beacons all across the UK and the Commonwealth countries, in recognition of Queen Elizabeth’s outstanding life’s work. Lighting beacons as a means of marking key milestones has a long tradition dating back centuries to when it was a communication tool; the chain of beacons being used to spread important news.
Oh, that the Holy Spirit this Pentecost would kindle fire in our hearts, making churches a chain of beacons of hope throughout our land and across the world, proclaiming the Kingship of Jesus, and of God here now, and coming one day in all its fullness.
Let our hearts’ cry out, ‘Please light the beacons!’