Reflection for Pentecost and the Platinum Jubilee.
“In our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” From the first Pentecost, Acts 2:1-13.
“She gave herself to the Commonwealth and to the nation but also to God and the anointing was a holy moment. Once anointed, Elizabeth was transformed into Majesty. And then suddenly, there she was, Queen. It was a metamorphosis, it was extraordinary.” Lady Glenconner, Maid of Honour, speaking of the Coronation.
This week has seen the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee marking her transformation into Majesty and the use of earthly power during her reign. It coincides today with Pentecost when the heavenly power of the Holy Spirit transformed the lives of those first disciples in a way that is sometimes called the Birthday of the Church. In both situations, an extraordinary metamorphosis had profound consequences which are still resonating today.
One of the ways of marking this is to ‘Plant a tree for the Jubilee’ to create the Queen’s Green Canopy across the United Kingdom. This will provide a lasting tribute to Elizabeth II and enhance the environment too. A yew in St Melangell’s Churchyard, thought to be at least two thousand years old, has been selected as one of the seventy Ancient Trees representing each year of the Queen’s reign and the hope is that a yew sapling will be planted to mark the Jubilee. As the official season for doing this is between October and March, that won’t happen until November this year but it’s good to continue the tradition of marking important events by planting a tree and, as trees can live for hundreds of years, giving a gift in this way to future generations too.
Each of us is rooted in a family tree which gives the various branches of the line of descendants from which we have come, whether we are familiar with this or not. Jesus’ human family tree begins the gospel of St Matthew as the genealogy of Jesus – though I once heard a reader call it the gynaecology of Jesus! He was placed in a wooden manger and died on a cross often called the Tree, having worked as a carpenter before his ministry. The Bible starts with the garden in which grows “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”(Genesis 2:9) and ends with the tree of life set beside the river in the city of the new Jerusalem which has “leaves for the healing of the nations”. (Rev.22:2)
The healing of the nations is much needed as warfare continues between Russia and Ukraine, with their blockaded grain supplies affecting the ability of poorer nations to feed their peoples and creating food insecurity. There was little sign of that at the various street parties being held in the UK and it may not be possible to do much about the great issues dividing the nations currently but perhaps there is something smaller we can do to bring about healing closer to home. The Royal Family has had its share of family problems and it’s clear that, whatever individual views of the Monarchy may be, Queen Elizabeth II is widely regarded as having served her peoples faithfully – but, at 96, we are clearly now in a time of transition. Due to what are described as episodic mobility issues, the Queen has been unable to attend even the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral which, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Head of the Commonwealth of Nations and a woman of faith, will have been a hard decision for her to make. Thanks have been given for the seventy years of her reign, but who knows what will happen in future?
One of the things that the Queen was able to do was to light the Tree of Trees remotely, a feat of technology between Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. This remarkable structure is made of British trees in containers, and each one will be sent to a different county to be planted to mark the Platinum Jubilee and this remarkable moment in history. That contrasts with recent work here in the valley, where great numbers of ash and larch trees have had to be cut down due to disease and the land where they were planted currently looks so devastated. However, this was necessary to avoid further contamination and the ground will be replanted in the autumn – it will take a while, but the trees will mature in due course.
At this time of national transition, when each of us is also invited to plant a tree for the Jubilee, it’s important to remember not only the Queen but the King of heaven that she serves. We are also called to his service and the Queen, whatever may be thought about other branches of her family, has given steadfast and dutiful service throughout her reign. In gratitude both to her and the King who has entrusted creation to our stewardship, and as a sign of faith and hope for the future, why not consider planting a sapling in your garden or some appropriate place for the Platinum Jubilee, the environment or a family occasion? Don’t just leaf it for other people to do!
With my prayers; pob bendith,