Pentecost Sunday 2022 HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou thee the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold fits impart.
Words from the ancient hymn we have just sung calling upon God to send the Holy Spirit, with all its gifts upon us. Ten years ago when I preached on the Diamond Jubilee, it fell on Trinity Sunday. Never an easy Sunday to preach on at any time but how to incorporate the Queen’s jubilee? My sermon on that day began:
“How on earth, I hear you say, can Dean manage to link the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the fact that we are also celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of her Majesty the Queen? What insights can both give to the other? These have been questions I have been pondering for weeks and I have come to the conclusion that the ‘diamond’ might be the key to the conundrum.”
As a decade ago, I have been pondering on what to say this time but in some ways my task has been easier as today is not Trinity Sunday but Pentecost Sunday or Whitsun. The Sunday at the end of Eastertide, following Christ’s ascension into heaven when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and Jesus’ disciples in that upper room.
The Spirit did amazing and surprising things to those followers of Jesus; inspiring them and filling them with a spirit of mission and evangelism, giving them the ability to speak new languages in which to share the Good News of Christ and reassuring them that although Jesus had departed from them they would never be separated from the love of God because of the Holy Spirit.
At her coronation on the 2nd June 1953, well over a year following her ascension to the throne after the death of her father George VI, Elizabeth was consecrated monarch and prayed over by assorted clerics all of whom invoked the Holy Spirit to come upon her and to bless her with the gifts she would need to govern and reign as Queen. One of the many prayers used was this:
‘O Lord and heavenly Father, the exalter of the humble and the strength of thy chosen, who by anointing with Oil didst of old make and consecrate kings, priests, and prophets, to teach and govern thy people Israel: Bless and sanctify thy chosen servant ELIZABETH, who by our office and ministry is now to be anointed with this Oil, and consecrated Queen: Strengthen her, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter; Confirm and stablish her with thy free and princely Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and government, the Spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness, and fill her, O Lord, with the Spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
It is a prayer that calls upon God through the Holy Spirit to bless the Queen with wisdom and strength to govern her people in accordance with God’s holy ways. It is a commandment that the Queen has always taken seriously. This prayer was followed by a more specific prayer that blessed the oil of anointing and (as in Baptism) sealed the Queen with the Holy Spirit:
‘Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who by his Father was anointed with the Oil of gladness above his fellows, by his holy Anointing pour down upon your Head and Heart the blessing of the Holy Ghost, and prosper the works of your Hands: that by the assistance of his heavenly grace you may govern and preserve the Peoples committed to your charge in wealth, peace, and godliness; and after a long and glorious course of ruling a temporal kingdom wisely, justly, and religiously, you may at last be made partaker of an eternal kingdom, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
It is perhaps a poignant prayer for it not only speaks of the Queens life and rule but of her death too. It is a prayer for life long service to the people she has been called to reign over and a reminder that to do so is a life-long commitment only relieve by entry into God’s eternal Kingdom. I wonder how much her Majesty ponders on these words after 70 years of rule?
When we pray to the Holy Spirit we do so with trepidation or we should do. Because the Holy Spirit will do as it wishes and seems correct not as we think we want it to do. We may wish to be blessed with certain gifts and abilities the Holy Spirit may have other ideas. Praying to the Holy Spirit is a dangerous thing to do but a life-giving experience none-the-less. The Holy Spirit is God’s creative and restorative force. It really changes things and can open our eyes to new vistas and dreams we had not expected. At Baptism we are blessed with oil and the Holy Spirit in the hope that the Spirit will guide us throughout our three score and ten (or more).
We do not know the path we will tread through life at that point but we can be assured that we will never be abandoned by the Holy Spirit while we journey on. We may choose to ignore or reject the Spirit’s support but it will still be alongside us patiently waiting for our return or openness. It might even ‘niggle’ us long the way to change course and to pilgrimage into new places. If we are open to the Spirit then we will grow and develop a little more each day into the person God calls us to be. The person made in God’s image and sharing bits of God’s character. We all come from God and we spend our lives returning to God with the Holy Spirit as our guide and support if we let it.
On this Jubilee Sunday ponder a while on your journey through life and where you can see the influence of the Holy Spirit has been give thanks for gifts received and pray for more revelation to come. In our worship this morning we give thanks for the reign of Queen Elizabeth, we pray for her in the latter years of her life and we pray for our country that the Holy Spirit will bless it with abundance and a willingness to share all the good things God has given us.
Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire and lead us ever closer to your coming Kingdom.