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Preacher: Canon Maggie McLean, Missioner
Title of sermon: What a weekend!
Date/time/service: Sunday 5 June 2022
What a weekend!
There are tea parties and street parties; services and concerts; pomp and ceremony.
And, at the heart of it all, a remarkable 96 year old who has reigned for 70 years.
Seventy years during which the world has changed in ways unknown to any previous generation that has lived through seven decades. Perhaps that’s why this event is so significant.
Despite all the changes; economic, political and social, the Queen has been there. Constant; committed and faithful. A sovereign for all seasons. As our Archbishop put it so well on Friday, a Queen who ‘has stayed the course’. At every stage of that journey we know that the Queen has taken her Christian faith seriously and dutifully.
She has never been shy of mentioning that faith in her messages at Christmas. At the age of 21 she made a public commitment of service and, along with the Coronation oaths, these express a religious sense of calling and vocation. For that reason, it feels entirely appropriate that the Jubilee coincides with Pentecost.
The coming of the Holy Spirit energises the apostles. It propels them into their mission, and calls them to new vocations. Like the sudden lighting of a beacon on a windy night, this blaze sends sparks in all directions. It is the event that founds the Church and carries the light of Christ even to York. For Christians the vocations of Pentecost never end.
God continues to call people to new tasks; new missions to share the light of the Gospel.
As we each play our part in responding to God’s love for the world, it will be different for each and every one of us. We trust in God to weave the little we offer into a Kingdom that is being build day-by-day, and step-by-step. By accepting our Pentecost vocation we seek to live out our faith not only on the grand occasions but, most importantly, in our daily living.
So often the important moments of the Kingdom of God happen on the margins. Maybe at the times when things feel least promising. On a dusty road when two dispirited disciples meet a stranger. Perhaps in an unlikely encounter by a well, or when a passing official meets St Philip and goes on to ask: ‘what prevents me from being baptised?’
Last week I caught up with something that I’ve been planning to do for two and a half years.
I spent the afternoon in the Minster shop. Stacking shelves, working on the till and I was even trusted with the pricing gun! What struck me most about the experience was the opportunity for people to ask informal questions about the Minister. Questions that they may have hesitated to ask one of the clergy, or a verger, or a guide. Yet in the shop, the kind of retail environment where a lot of people feel at home, conversations and questions flow.
I now understand why, in June, the shop staff start asking: ‘when will tickets be available for the Christmas concerts?’ They are asking us, because even in June, people as asking them.
But the questions aren’t only about the nuts and bolts of the Minster’s timetable.
Sometimes those who visit the Minster are people who want to share the struggles they’re facing. People who are wrestling with issues in their own lives, or with events happening around the globe. And as they wrestle and struggle, they have come to the Minster to find a spiritual space – somewhere that seems to resonate with their concerns, a place to reflect, but a place that also brings its own kind of peace. While the Minster promotes reflection, places like the shop provide somewhere in-between, a place where people can ask the questions they bring. We need both.
The important places of vocation aren’t always in religious spaces. The Minster is here to resource us and inspire us, to help us go out to be better disciples. As someone who attends church regularly, I’m sure that the Queen is fed in her faith by these moments of stillness and worship. It is a reminder of God’s constancy and love, qualities that go from the privacy of a chapel into the theatre of politics, ceremony and public life.
On this Jubilee weekend, as we celebrate Pentecost, we pray for every Christian who seeks to live out their life of faith in daily life, inspired and guided by God. And, not least, we pray for the Queen, offering thanks and looking forward – celebrating seventy years of remarkable service.
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