So the Queen and Prince Philip have been married for 70 years, a platinum anniversary. Many congratulations to them both! To be married for 70 years is a remarkable achievement and yet oddly quite simple to accomplish as it just requires you to keep living one day after another!
The age we live in though is a transient age. Things simply do not seem to last, be it washing machines, toasters or marriages. Sadly all too many relationships founder and the rate is around 40 per cent of marriages ending in divorce. Although the rate is falling it is complicated by the high number of people who cohabit. Relationships still break up at an alarming rate. The Queen and Prince Philip though are a picture of stability in a sea of change. There is such an incredible consistency about them which makes them something of a benchmark to gauge the rest of life around. Not everyone agrees with the monarchy or what it represents but at least it provides a significant landmark to navigate around and is an element of stability.
I would also say that the Church serves that function too. It can provide a framework for people’s lives and there is still a demand for babies and children to be baptised or christened, for couples to mark their relationships in marriage and to celebrate lives with funeral and memorial services in church. But its effectiveness is under threat.
Within the Church people of an older generation often know the form. Upon entering the gentlemen remove their hats, conversation is minimised in respect for the sanctity of the place, upon sitting down there is a moment’s pause for reflection or prayer, money is often put in the plate on the way out and so on. Within the service there is an accepted practice of joining in certain parts of the service such as the Lord’s Prayer.
Ah now, the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer which has been handed down to us and we believe as Jesus taught his disciples and is in the Bible is a special and precious prayer. In earlier years it was taught at the mother’s knee and handed down from generation to generation. I have noticed over the years how fewer and fewer people join in at weddings, christenings and funerals. Sometimes I find it can be me, the organist and the verger! We are losing our hold on some valuable traditions!
So in celebrating with the Queen and Prince Philip it is also perhaps a chance to remind ourselves of those traditional values and practices which we are in danger of losing to our detriment and seek to get in touch with them once more!