CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Queen, Crises, and Christ

Apr 6, 2020

The Royal Family in times of crisis gives us a very faint picture of the Easter message:

With Easter once again upon us, it is worth reflecting on a few matters in this time of crisis, and look at another crisis of not all that long ago. And let me tie in a television address just made by the Queen concerning the corona crisis – a quite rare event, aside from her annual Christmas messages.

Queen Elizabeth II began her four-minute speech with these words: “I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.” Here is the second half of her speech:

Across the Commonwealth and around the world, we have seen heart-warming stories of people coming together to help others, be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort.

And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation. It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister.

We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do.

While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.

We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.

The full text of the speech can be found here: www.bbc.com/news/uk-52176208

And you can watch her delivering the speech here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2klmuggOElE

I am reminded of what her own mother and father did in another major crisis: the Second World War. Her parents were urged to leave the country during these turbulent times – especially during the Blitz – and find safe haven elsewhere. But they chose to remain behind and encourage the people.

The Blitz was a period from September 1940 to May 1941 in which the Germans unleashed a strategic bombing campaign against England. London and other cities were targeted, with both populated and industrial areas being bombed. During this nine-month period some 44,000 civilians were killed.

One article gives us a bit more detail of these very dark days:

The Blitz began on 7 September, ‘Black Saturday’, when German bombers attacked London, leaving 430 dead and 1,600 injured. London was then bombed for 57 consecutive nights, and often during daytime too. London experienced regular attacks and on 10-11 May 1941 was hit by its biggest raid. German bombers dropped 711 tons of high explosive and 2,393 incendiaries. 1,436 civilians were killed. However, this proved to be the last major raid until January 1943.

While London was bombed more heavily and more often than anywhere else in Britain, the Blitz was an attack on the whole country. Very few areas were left untouched by air raids. In relatively small compact cities, the impact of a severe air raid could be devastating. www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-blitz-around-britain

While the Blitz may have been somewhat short-lived, the War of course dragged on much longer. Another article speaks of how the Royal Family was involved in the nation during this period:

At 6pm on 3 September 1939, King George VI spoke to the people of Britain and the Empire. In his radio broadcast, he talked of the difficult times ahead and urged his people to stand firm. The King held the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force (RAF). He and Queen Elizabeth inspected troops and visited work places. On these occasions the King always appeared in uniform.

During the Blitz, the King and Queen visited bombed areas to see the damage caused by enemy air raids. On these visits, the Queen took a keen interest in what was being done to help people who had lost their homes. After Buckingham Palace was bombed on 13 September 1940, she said she felt she could ‘look the East End in the face’.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret spent most of the war years at Windsor Castle and, like many other British children, were often apart from their parents. In October 1940, 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth broadcast a message to evacuees on the radio programme Children’s Hour, urging them to have courage.

At the age of 19, Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). After joining, she trained as a driver and mechanic with the rank of Second Subaltern. Five months later she was promoted to Junior Commander, which was the equivalent of Captain. Her younger sister Princess Margaret was a Girl Guide and later joined the Sea Rangers.

At 6pm on VE Day, 8 May 1945, the King again broadcast to the nation. During the afternoon and evening, the King and Royal Family made eight appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to acknowledge the crowds gathered below. The princesses were allowed to leave the palace and secretly take part in the celebrations. www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-the-royal-family-did-during-the-second-world-war

The fact that the English monarchs would not abandon their people and flee overseas during a time of great crisis speaks volumes about their character and their love for the English people. They would remain there and live and work in solidarity with them.

And we have another even greater example of this in history. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, left the comforts of heaven to go to be with the people in their time of crisis. He could have stayed at home – and he had every right to do so.

But out of a deep, deep love for those whom he created and sought to redeem, he went to our sin-infested world and suffered on our behalf, eventually dying a cruel death on the cross. Like the Royal Family, he could have remained aloof, in a safe space, and not exposed himself to the dangers and terrors of the people.

But also like the Royals, he chose to be with them in their time of need. He knew he had to be there. Of course the King and Queen could only offer moral support by their presence during WWII. But Jesus came to planet earth to offer us much more than mere moral support and comfort.

He came to take our place at Calvary, dying as a substitute, taking upon himself the wrath of God for our sins. He did all this for us. There can be no greater identification with the people than this supreme act of self-sacrifice. This is the real meaning of Easter.

A few biblical passages make all this clear:

Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4 9-10) 

Glory to God and Happy Easter!

[1377 words]

11 Responses to The Queen, Crises, and Christ

  • Beautifully and poignantly expressed, Bill. Thank you.

    And all honour and praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ . . .

    ” . . and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

    Thank You, Lord, for Your great and sacrificial love for us, unmerited and undeserved. We stand each day in humble awe before Your throne, especially at this time in contemplating the stupendous message of Easter. We love You, we praise You and we worship You now and forevermore, Amen.

  • Thank you, Bill, for your uplifting comments about King George VI’s godly leadership of Britain and the Dominions during the dark days of World War II.

    On December 25, 1939 – the first Christmas of the war – George VI delivered what was probably his most famous radio broadcast.

    He reminded his listeners across the globe of what was at stake and what they were fighting for.

    He said: “I believe from my heart that the cause which binds together my peoples and our gallant and faithful Allies is the cause of Christian civilisation. On no other basis can a true civilisation be built. Let us remember this through the dark times ahead of us and when we are making the peace for which all men pray.”

    He offered words of comfort and encouragement, particularly for those fearful of what the new year might bring, and quoted some lines, originally penned in 1908, by British poet Minnie Louise Haskins:

    “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
    ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
    And he replied,
    ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
    That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way’.”

    The king finished his broadcast by saying: “May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.”

  • One of your best posts, Bill – thank you!

  • I am afraid, I have very different view of the speech. To me it revealed how out of touch she is with the real world. Jesus Christ was not mentioned once. Instead we had only , ” [Covid 19] presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation. As for “We will meet again.” this is a reference to Vera Lynn [1]
    There was no call to prayer and crying out to God in repentance and for mercy for the sinful state of Britain and the Church of England of which she is the Head, that far exceeds that of Sodom.
    Not only has she made a mockery of her Coronation Oath to uphold the Protestant faith, the laws of God, Justice and truth, but it is has been her hand that has given royal assent to over three and half thousand pieces of legislation – most of it godless, resulting in over 9,000,000 babies exterminated in the womb and the domination of LGBTs
    Those of us who have a memory of life sixty or seventy years ago would never have dreamt that, Britain would have slid into the degree of moral anarchy that we see all around us, resulting in the dismemberment of marriage and the family; the culling of nine million babies in the womb, since 1967; teen age girls having multiple abortions, rises in domestic violence, especially amongst lesbian partnerships, year on year; the spread of AIDS, HIV and an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases principally amongst teenagers and the gay community, costing billions pounds to the tax payer; rampant drug addiction; widespread mental illness and suicide; a breakdown in discipline in schools; thousands of children either being sexually abused or abusing other children as a consequence of sex education programmes; hundreds of children wrenched from their parents, put into social care, and sold off through the queer adoption agencies; sex trafficking; paedophilia; same sex marriage; satanic ritual abuse; a rocketing violent crime rate and the largest prison population in Europe.

    What we got last night was carry on chaps and let us get back to sliding down the Gadarene slope as soon as we can.
    God is not mocked and clearly the Queen has not learnt the lessons of the Bible, let alone history and how nations die.
    Indeed God save the Queen and the souls of Charles who worships strange gods and William and Harry who are ambassadors for promoting LGBT rights in Commonwealth countries.
    God help us.

    [1] https://youtu.be/HsM_VmN6ytk?t=5

    David Skinner UK

  • Thanks David. But a few replies if I may. I don’t think she is the antichrist or the epitome of evil, as you almost seem to imply! Could she have been much more explicit in sharing biblical truth in this speech? Sure – it would have been great. And yes, a call to repentance too. But does a leader need to run with John 3:16 every single time they open their mouth? I don’t think so. And at times she has been much more open about sharing some basic gospel truths, such as during some of her Christmas messages.

    And it is rather foolish to suggest that somehow all the evils of England today can somehow be all pinned on the Queen. You rightly offer us a VERY long list of great evils that have befallen your country over the decades. Yes they are terrible. But to somehow imply that this is all the fault of the Queen is not all that useful. Rather much better and more accurate to say that all sorts of people have contributed to this, from politicians to preachers to everyday Brits.

    Can she have taken stronger steps along the way in many of the culture war issues? Sure, and I wish she had done so as well. But there were plenty of others who are/were much more responsible for the current mess in the UK. So I am not sure – all things considered – that offering such strong criticism is all that helpful here. As I keep saying, could she have done better and done more? Sure. I probably could have done better here in Australia as well. Probably we all could have.

    And actually, while I did mention her speech, the main point of my article was the Easter message, and how in a very small way the Royal Family and their actions during WWII were a slight reflection of helping a people in a time of need. I hope the Easter message can instead shine through here, and not just our personal likes or dislikes of the Queen. But thanks again for your thoughts.

  • Dear Bill, I am not in any shape or form suggesting the Queen is the antichrist . As for her “Christian” messages at Christmas, there has never ever been reference to a Jesus who died on the cross, who washed our sins in his blood and who rose from the dead to give us eternal life. The Jesus she talks about is someone who does good works . There is no difference between her Jesus , mother Theresa, Gandhi and many other “good” people. It’s all about working together and producing a cohesive society. And of course there is always plenty reference to how wonderful her children are at heading up charities. Over the past two decades, Christians have appealed to her as Head of the Church of England and the one who finally has to sign of all legislation that has to come to her, to come to the aid of the unborn baby, children put up for adoption, the destruction of marriage and family. We have appealed to her to call the nation to prayer as her father did George VI during the War. And yet we all receive the same letter written by one her ladies in waiting, saying Her Majesty is touched by your kind sentiments but she is unable to influence her government. People say that if the Queen were to voice such a call to the nation, this would cause a constitutional crisis and yet Britain has been going through a constitutional crisis ever since she came to the throne. Indeed there is no longer any constitution to speak of. As for her children, Charles, Anne and Andrew they are known for separations, divorce and the death of Dianna . And now we have Harry and Megan to keep the media busy. The house of Windsor is one of the most dysfunctional of all families and Elizabeth has to take a large measure of responsibility for this. Essentially the Queen acts a kind grandmother figure who is always there, looking down indulgently on her wayward children and nation, from the lofty heights of Buckingham Palace , Windsor Castle , Sandringham, Balmoral castle and other fabulous residences. This gives people a false sense of comfort and continuity. But she will not live forever and what legacy will she leave? As for the part all of us have played in the moral collapse all around us, that is true, except we are do not occupy the position of authority and power that she does. Like Queen Esther, she could have spoken up and taken the risk of being removed from the throne – for such a time as this etc – but she never did and country is now on the brink. One day she will have to face the supreme King and it will not be “You have run the race and well done thou good and faithful servant ” Why do we give the Queen a pass on all these issues.? Why do we assume that she is above all earthly concerns and only has give a once a year appearance whilst we eat our Christmas dinner ? God help us.
    David Skinner UK

  • Thanks again David. Yes, we get it: you really do not like the Queen and her family! But of course the purpose of this article was not to defend or elevate the Queen or anyone else but to elevate Christ and to celebrate Easter – something that I seem to have failed miserably to achieve however, given how the discussion has been rather royally derailed! But for anyone still reading here, let me try to make my point one more time: Jesus came to earth to deal with the sin question. He is our hope in dark times. Happy Easter.

  • Bill thank you.
    Bill and David; three questions if I may.
    Has the Queen ever sent a piece of legislation back to Parliament for amendment/discussion etc. because she was not happy with it?
    Has the Queen ever refused a piece of legislation?
    What would have happened, or what are the processes, for refusal of Royal assent?

  • Thanks Bruce. I make no claim to fully understanding the role of the Queen in the area of legislation. I thought she had a pretty nominal role in law making, with the elected parliamentarians doing the actual work here. But for what it is worth, this from wiki:

    Before the Royal Assent by Commission Act 1541 became law, assent was always required to be given by the Sovereign in person before Parliament. The last time royal assent was given by the Sovereign in person in Parliament was in the reign of Queen Victoria at a prorogation on 12 August 1854. The Act was repealed and replaced by the Royal Assent Act 1967. However section 1(2) of that Act does not prevent the sovereign from declaring assent in person if he or she so desires. Royal assent is the final step required for a parliamentary bill to become law. Once a bill is presented to the Sovereign or the Sovereign’s representative, he or she has the following formal options:
    -the Sovereign may grant royal assent, thereby making the bill an Act of Parliament.
    -the Sovereign may delay the bill’s assent through the use of his or her reserve powers, thereby vetoing the bill.
    -the Sovereign may refuse royal assent on the advice of his or her ministers.
    The last bill that was refused assent by the Sovereign was the Scottish Militia Bill during Queen Anne’s reign in 1708.

    But again, alas, the main purpose of my article – to celebrate what Easter is about based on the work of Christ – is still being sidelined here!

  • In answer to Bruce Knowling’s question, Never, as far as I know.

    At the World Gay Pride 2012, held in London the most celebrated gay pride activist, Peter Tatchell who promotes pornography, sexual perversion , paedophilia and pederasty declared that “There are no borders or boundaries when it comes to Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender human rights. No nation, no culture, no belief system can stand in the way the historic quest for LGBT freedom.” [1] This means that not even the Queen can refuse the demands of the LGBTs.

    15th July, the Queen gave her royal assent to same sex marriage. According to homosexual Stephen Fry, when the same sex marriage Bill came before her, for royal assent, she is supposed to have said, “ Well, who would have thought, sixty years ago” This was apparently followed by pause during which those around her wondered what she was going to say. She then said, “ that such a Bill could come to pass?” Isn’t it wonderful!”[2]
    [1] https://youtu.be/UWsac1Z23dM?t=232

    [2] https://youtu.be/zBy3hEpRNm8?t=803

    Thanks Bill for giving a good innings and now I promise to shut up
    David Skinner UK

  • David Skinner,
    Thank you for your lengthy comments.

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