Thought for the Week: The most important meeting with our Sovereign

Rev Jim Rea of the Methodist churchRev Jim Rea of the Methodist church
Rev Jim Rea of the Methodist church
If you have ever met the Queen, there is no better time to dine out on your experience than now, in her platinum jubilee year.

My earliest memory of Her Majesty was her Coronation on the June 2, 1953, when I recall my father listening to the service from Westminster Abbey on a crackly radio.

In the cobblestone street in north Belfast where we lived there was a street party for the children, with lemonade, buns and loads of sweets and a bit of music to add to the occasion. The standard of the houses we lived in might be considered slums today. Other people might watch the Coronation on television, but nobody around us could afford a television.

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As for seeing her, we were limited to photographs the next day in a daily newspaper, many of which were cut out and pasted on the windows of shops and houses. Some weeks later, the Coronation was shown in a local cinema and my grandfather took me to see it. I can still recall the pageantry and the colour of the occasion, as I watched with a sense of wonder.

From those early days in the 1950s, I would never have believed that I would one day see the Queen on Christmas Day on high-definition television as if she were a guest in our home.

In November 1995, I was honoured to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. It was all over in seconds, and I can hardly remember what she said to me or how I responded. It was, however, a memorable moment, an unforgettable occasion when I was in the presence of a woman I greatly admired, and who has arguably remained the most respected leader in the free world.

On the day the Queen was crowned in 1953, she placed one hand on the open Bible and took a solemn oath to Almighty God and to ‘uphold to the utmost of my power’, the Laws of God within the Realm, and the true profession of the Christian gospel. Throughout her reign, particularly in recent times, secularism is on the attack and much of our society dismisses Christianity.

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Queen Elizabeth II has remained faithful to her calling and upholds her allegiance to Christian values, never afraid to mention in her Christmas Day broadcast the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. To receive that calling to meet the Queen on the 30th November 1995 is forever etched in my memory — a lifetime privilege.

Yet, I am reminded every day of my greatest calling, as for any Christian believer, to follow Jesus the King of Kings and the One to whom the Queen gives precedence. Being ready to meet Him some day is of ultimate importance and the greatest honour of all, undeserved but freely offered to us in Christ with the forgiveness of all our sins.