March 2, 2020

Reflections From the Servant Queen

There is purpose in doing right, taking the long view instead of simply satisfying our immediate impulses.

Sharon Tennyson

I polled a friend in St. Albans, United Kingdom: “What do you think about England having a royal family and a queen?”

Her reply was similar to others I’d heard. “The queen adds a special dignity to being British,” she said.

I recently read The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, the King she serves being our heavenly Father!

Every Christmas afternoon at 3:00, after kids have opened their presents, Christmas meals have been eaten, and families are relaxing together, citizens of the United Kingdom can listen on the radio or watch on the British Broadcasting Corporation the queen’s annual Christmas broadcast. Two of the most recurring themes are forgiveness and loving our neighbors. In 2014, Queen Elizabeth said: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.”

I picture in my mind’s eye a solid, heavy anchor. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is our solid anchor, providing us with all that is good. The queen continued: “Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith, or none.”

There is a purpose in doing right, taking the long view instead of simply satisfying our immediate impulses.

To hold people in high regard, those of different faiths, even those with no faith, treating them with respect and consideration is so like Christ, humble and nonconfrontational. How can we learn about each other, become friends, if we don’t treat others with respect?

In her 1975 broadcast, Queen Elizabeth said: “[Jesus’] simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since [His birth]. He showed that what people are and what they do does matter and does make all the difference.”

I think we all know that everything we do matters and makes a difference, even though the things that get news coverage or “likes” on social media don’t tend to encourage little, thoughtful acts.

The queen correctly compares the little things we do in our daily lives to stones thrown into water. “Even the smallest pebble changes the whole pattern of the water. . . . Kindness, sympathy, resolution, and courteous behavior are infectious.”

Most of us—the “smallest pebbles”—doubt that anything we do matters in the big picture. But we have an impact. The queen speaks of it, she has experienced it in her life. On some level we know it too: it gives us a reason to continue doing what is good and right.

“I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right,” Queen Elizabeth wrote. “To take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. . . . I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”

I find such inspiration in these sweet, simple words. Like us, the queen draws strength from her faith in God. He provides her with stability and is her anchor. She reminds us that there is a purpose in doing right, taking the long view instead of simply satisfying our immediate impulses, and putting our trust in God.

Sharon Tennyson is distribution and logistics coordinator for Adventist Review Ministries.