A reflection for the Monday of Holy Week
I have to admit that yesterday’s speech from the Queen made me cry. Indeed, particularly when she referred to her first radio broadcast together with her sister in 1940. However, being honest, the words ‘The Queen’ on the screen and the camera shot of Windsor Castle were enough to set me off. Talking to a couple of friends afterwards, I was not the only one.
Why does a speech like the one on Sunday has the capacity to move people so profoundly? I would like to suggest that it is because it reminds us that we matter; that we are part of a story with cosmic significance and each have a part to play. That story is the story of humanity, the story of God with us.
The story transcends our time and space: it is not just a cultural phenomenon which can be explained entirely sociologically – although others may disagree. To illustrate: notwithstanding my great respect for Queen Elizabeth and having sworn an Oath of Allegiance to her, she has not been my Queen from young age, as I grew up in The Netherlands. So we see, at least for me it is not the language of nationhood, a belonging to the Commonwealth, that matters, but something greater.
It is also not just a phenomenon of our time. The sense of wanting to belong to something greater is engrained in us as human beings. Staying close to examples of monarchs, Charlemagne was hailed as the ‘new David’, trying to emulate the Biblical king’s power and wisdom.
That thought brings us to the story of Christianity, itself built so firmly on the story of the Jewish people. The readings for morning prayer in Holy Week tell the Passion according to Luke’s Gospel, the story of Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem. This is the cosmic story par excellence. The story into which we are all invited; indeed, the story in which we all have a part to play.
As I was moved by the Queen’s broadcast, even more so I was moved by the reading of the Passion yesterday. Thanks to Zoom, we had a reading with voices and accents across the world, really bringing home that this particular story has universal significance.
I would like to encourage you to use these days in Holy Week to enter once more into that story. To realise its significance, and our significance; to realise that it is not yet another story for us, but a story with us.