During her visit to this country earlier this year Queen Elisabeth ll won the hearts of many by her gracious and good humoured disposition as she visited landmark sites on the island. Perhaps most moving was her time at the Garden of Remembrance where those who died in the struggle against British occupation are honoured. Also her interaction with the crowds who turned out after her visit to Cork’s English Market was remarkably warm and spontaneous. The visit definitely advanced neighbourly relations between our two countries and changed many ‘Republicans’ views of the British Monarchy. The Queen is the head of the Anglican Church and is reported to have a strong Christian faith herself and is a daily Bible reader. In this years Christmas message she speaks explicitly of the Saviour and the necessity of an individual relationship with Him, as you will see from the excerpt below… ~GOSh.~
QUEEN'S CHRISTMAS SPEECH
For many, this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home.
The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas."