During all the hours of commentary and coverage that the death of the Queen has received over the past few weeks, there was one word that stood out to me above all – and that is ‘service’. Friends of the Queen, dignitaries, commentators … all of them have referred to the Queen’s 70 years of service … which has been truly remarkable. The Queen had a status and role to play which I think few of us would actually covet – and I’m sure there must have been many days when she didn’t feel like meeting yet more strangers and VIPs … didn’t feel like shaking yet more hands … or standing still for hours on end. But she did it. And she did it with a grace and a sense of generous giving which never, ever wavered.
The Queen herself attributed this attitude of serving to her faith in Christ – she was a woman of prayer and that made a difference to her daily life. It gave her strength, endurance and ultimately the ability to find joy in all she did – because it was for the good and joy of others. And I wonder whether over the years it became easier for her – for service changes the person doing the serving … it refines, purifies and brings out the best in them. Service, as it is practised more and more, becomes a way of being rather than a specifically carved out time of doing.
We, as followers of Christ, are called to this life of service … the Way of Love. And we can do this is so many ways: praying for each other, chatting to each other, including the person sitting at a table in the conversation, inviting a newcomer to join us in the Trinity Centre, making food for our reinstated Soup and Sweet Lunches, joining in the groups, singing, playing music, phoning someone who hasn’t been to church. The way of Love is often found in the little gestures.
We believe that this Way of Love flows from the conviction that God loved us first. Every week we gather for our church ‘service’ and say those words as part of our liturgy. I used to think that our Sunday gathering was called a ‘service’ because it was when we could give praise and worship to God … that we were serving God by coming to church and offering what we have to Him. And this may well be true – but I also wonder whether there is another angle. The reality is that on Sundays we gather as people who have had often a hard week, who are troubled by difficulties and griefs with which we are struggling, who come feeling battered and broken. And our Church Service is a time for God, the generous, ever-flowing, self emptying Trinity, to ‘serve’ us and to love us. We may often come to church as empty vessels longing to be filled … and that is exactly what God longs to do – to fill us with His peace, fellowship, Word, the balm of music and the reassurance of faith. Yes, God serves us through the liturgy and sacraments, giving of Himself to us, as Jesus did when He was on earth. And it is then, because God serves and loves us, that we, for the rest of the week, are able to serve others. As we say at the end of the Sunday Service: ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’. Amen
with love, Liz