If you were asked who in the UK owns an elephant, two giant turtles, a jaguar and a pair of sloths, would you know the answer? It’s certainly not me, or any farmer in Northern Ireland – it is The Queen. They were gifts from other countries and they live in London Zoo.
As you may know, next week sees Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the longest serving monarch in the history of these islands. In the 70 years since her ascension, so many things have changed. Her coronation, for example, was broadcast live on TV and sent sales of television sets rocketing in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. Farming around that time was also developing rapidly, with the tractor taking the place of the farm horse.
A CLAAS self-propelled combine harvester could be bought for £2,300 – available with either 8ft, 10ft, or 12ft, cutter bars - and a built-in baler. Chemical weed killers were gaining popularity in the early 50s and continental breeds of cattle would soon emerge to challenge our native breeds. Life for Her Majesty, for agriculture and for society in general, would evolve rapidly over the next seven decades.
I read a booklet on the Jubilee recently, which focused on The Queen’s faith and service. It highlighted a series of daily meditations prepared for her by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the run up to her coronation. The first words he asked The Queen to consider were from Psalm 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth, and teach me: for you are my God and Saviour and my hope is in you all day long.”
The Archbishop appreciated that she would need God’s guidance and help for the many challenges to come. Thankfully God has promised to respond to all our cries for help, as we do not need to be royalty to have His support and comfort. In 1 Peter 5:7 we read “Cast all your cares upon Him [God] for He cares for you.” In a time of increasing stress and challenge for farmers, there is a God who understands and cares – a God who will listen to our prayers and is our sure and steady hope.
During the coronation ceremony The Queen was presented with many symbols of monarchy – and a Bible. The Archbishop described it as “The most valuable thing this world affords.” It is God’s message of hope to a troubled world and a message that has not changed during Elizabeth II’s reign, and never will.
A physical and a spiritual birthday
On Thursday, as part of the Jubilee celebrations, the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony takes place, marking the sovereign’s official birthday (her actual birthday is in April). While having two birthdays is often cited as unique to The Queen, it actually isn’t. Many of us don’t realise that we also have two birthdays, myself included.
There’s my physical birthday, when I came into this world, and my spiritual birthday when I became a member of God’s family by faith and repentance. In John 3:3, Jesus explained to Nicodemus that “‘no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless they are born again.’”
Whoever we are, we need to accept Jesus as our personal Saviour, to be reborn as a new person, so that one day we can worship in Heaven the King of Kings. Is that you?
It is good and right to make these earthly plans, but we also need to make plans for eternity by accepting Jesus, freely offered in the Gospel. Farmers want the farm to prosper and the family to thrive after they have gone, but they must also make plans for their future in eternity. So what will your inheritance be when you leave this earth, where will you spend eternity?
Having grown up in rural Tyrone, after leaving school at the age of 16, Knox worked for over 20 years on the family dairy farm near Aughnacloy. Having felt the call of God to full-time ministry, he was ordained in 2005 serving as minister of two Presbyterian congregations for 14 years.
In 2019 he was called to be minister of Aghadowey and Crossgar Presbyterian Churches in County Londonderry.
You can look at other blogs in this series here. If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07938 488 372.