A monarch’s clear testimony

Just across London’s Trafalgar Square is the church of St. Martin’s in the Fields.
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Arguably it’s most famous rector was a man known as Dick Sheppard.

During the First World War he organised Sunday afternoon services for men and women in uniform, who were in London waiting to be called to the front.

The king of the time, George V, whom the young Princess Elizabeth called ‘Grandpa England’, occasionally attended those services, to encourage the servicemen as well as the rector.

Rev David ClarkeRev David Clarke
Rev David Clarke

At one of those services Sheppard had mislaid the notes for his short address and went into the pulpit without them.

And from the pulpit he could see where his notes had dropped; right into the front pew, alongside the service sheet set aside for His Majesty’s use. He was grateful that his handwriting was virtually illegible, for at the top of his notes he had written; ‘Loyal and sincere gratitude to H.M. ..but no soap’.

The Christian views royalty with a divided mind; respect yes, but not unthinking obeisance.

The New Testament tells us through St. Paul that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God, with certain functions to perform for the public good (Romans 13;1).

We are told to pray ‘for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (I Timothy 2;1).

Peter agreed; ‘Show proper respect to everyone; Love the brother hood of believers, fear God, honour the King’ (1 Pet 2;17).

On the other hand, from its very infancy, the Christian church insisted on the sole right of Jesus Christ to command our allegiance.

When the Sanhedrin ordered Peter and John not to preach, they insisted, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5;29).

The great watchword of the Scottish Covenanters was ‘The Crown Rights of the Redeemer’, and one of the great Scottish reformers, Andrew Melville told the Scottish king James VI, the man who later became King James I of England; ‘Sire, there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland. There is Christ Jesus, the King, and His Kingdom the Kirk, whose subject King James VI is, and of whose kingdom not a king nor a lord, but a member’.

Christian people are thankful to God that while many in the political realm are proud to flaunt their atheism, Her Majesty has never been ashamed to acknowledge her Christian faith.

She, who is not required to bow to anyone, is happy to bow to the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

In her Christmas Day broadcast in 2015, she said ‘Billions of people follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them...’

Long may she reign!