After hundreds of years of occupation and oppression by the ‘Old Enemy’ the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, was invited as a guest to the Republic of Ireland.
Now on her final day the response to the visit has been quite amazing. For many it ends a chapter in our history, marked by violence and hate and opens up a new chapter of peace and reconciliation for a new generation. It seems the Old Enemy is now a Good Friend! While there is still a long way to go, it brings together what so many on this Island have been working on for years, most notably our President Mary McAleese and her Husband Dr Martin McAleese.
Last Evening the Queen attended a concert of Music, Theatre and Fashion attended by over two thousand guests. One of the most poignant moments was when Olivia O’Leary gave a short speech outlining just how far we had come and the significance of the event. There were a lot of symbolic moments in the visit – The Garden of Remembrance, Croke Park and then as Olivia pointed out ‘The Curtsey’. Apparently our female Politian’s were rather concerned that they would have to ‘Curtsey’ before the Queen, a very strong symbol of submission. Well, a very thankful Olivia O’Leary discovered that it was not protocol for everyone to bow before the Queen – because that would have been a step too far, friends yes but not subjects!
It does not matter to me if people Curtsey or not, at the very least it is a sign of respect, but I would not push the matter.
But it did remind me of another Royal Visit.
The Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah), God’s anointed King, visited this earth Two Thousand years ago. He came uninvited, and even though he made the world, the world did not recognise him (John 1v10). The Christ came to rule not by oppression and occupation but through service and sacrifice. He came to serve not be served and give his life as a ransom. He came to invite rebels like you and me not just to be his friends but to submit to him as King – the true King. He is the God who made us and owns us, and we can choose to be is loyal subjects or rebel subjects. Either way we are his subjects. One day this King, the true King, will return again and all those who have bowed the knee in submission will be welcomed into his eternal kingdom forever, a kingdom marked by peace and the absence of all violence. A Kingdom where religious, political and racial boundaries are shattered forever and people live united under King Jesus. If we refuse to bow we will be shut out from his presence forever. It’s not a question of being just good friends, we must be his loyal subjects. When God’s King does return we are told that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Including Queen Elizabeth and President Mary McAleese) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’ Phillipians 2v10-11.
We may not have to bow or Curtsey to a Royal today but the question remains have we bowed the knee to King Jesus?