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The Word on the Week

The Queen

We were sitting in a restaurant on the Isle of Jersey when a snippet of conversation floated across the room. The speaker, a young Englishman was informing two Portuguese waitresses why the Queen of England was visiting Ireland. “She’s gone to get her island back” was his confident summary of the tangled web of Ireland’s history which had culminated in this state visit. What it lacked in knowledge it made up for in simplicity! The old tensions created by religion and ethnicity have been largely overtaken by the notion of `citizenship` which today has replaced the idea of `subjects` owning allegiance to the crown. Symbolically this was seen in the handshakes which welcomed the Queen rather that the bowing and curtsying of former times. Her daunting programme of events was performed with the dignity and respect of one, who at age 85, has got the ability and intelligence to carry it off. One wag wrote that having to endure a performance of the Westlife band meant we could call it quits for 800 years of oppression! There was the impression that the dismantling of the British Empire which may well have begun in Dublin in 1916 had reached its conclusion back in Dublin in 2011. We are now neighbours not poor relations – not a word about our present straiten circumstances! What has the Bible to say about how Queens function? It must be said that a brief look at the subject yields mixed results. The Queen of Sheba was known for beauty and had an eye for business in the gifts she collected on her visit to King Solomon. Queen Esther was not only beautiful but courageous. Her dependence on God enabled her to put her life on the line memorably summed up in her conclusion, “If I perish I perish” Esther chapter 4 verse 16. Then there was Jezebel, but the less said about her the better. 1Kings chapter 21 gives a flavour of her character. In the New Testament King Herod’s wife Herodias infamously had it in for John the Baptist. He had told her husband that he could not marry her as she was already married to his brother. Herod went ahead anyway and had John the Baptist locked up. This gave Jezebel her opportunity for vengeance and when her daughter’s dancing pleased Herod, who foolishly offered her whatever she wanted on the advise of her mother she asked for John’s head on a plate. John’s death gave Herod no peace as he imagined John had come back from the dead in the form of Jesus – St Matthew chapter 14 verses 1 & 2. What he failed to do was to listen to Jesus when he had the chance instead he looked for a miracle. No the Queen is not looking for “her Island back” just taking the chance to put the past behind and looking towards a future as those who are equal in the sight of God.