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July 6, 2010
The most personal look Canadians had of our Queen came on Sunday morning when she wielded the power of symbolism to give us a look into her soul. When she went to church in Toronto’s St. James Cathedral, which has been a place of Christian worship since 1797, she was giving us a strategic revelation. She was telling us that she makes sense of her world by remembering to worship God.
After travelling from Ottawa to Winnipeg, attending 10 events in under six hours, pulling the curtain on historic milestones and memories, and then boarding a plane for Toronto, most religious folks would fade out the next morning and catch a breather. But the Queen marches to a different beat.
Part of her job description is to ensure that Christianity is lived in the life and laws of the Commonwealth she rules. She can’t fulfill that vision without first attending to her own spiritual life, and Sunday’s encounter at St. James provides insight into how she does that.
“It was 10:20 p.m. before we met her at the airport Saturday night,” Ontario Lieutenant-Governor David Onley said. “Her attendance [at church] the next morning was not just an obligatory thing – the weather, the pace she’s been going. … If anyone had skipped church prior to going to the Queen’s Plate, it would have been understood. But, for her, it was important; she’s obviously a person of faith and whose worship is part of her vital personal experience.”
Very Rev. Douglas Stoute, who preached the homily for the Queen that day, agrees, citing her devotion to her role as head of the 80-million-member Church of England. The monarch’s role is a symbolic reminder that there’s an ethos of the Lordship of Jesus Christ to be protected. But just how powerless the Queen is to direct church doctrine came through in Dean Stoute’s sermon.
In the kindest of ways, he illuminated that, once again, the Queen’s church is in renewal. Surprisingly, he spoke to the political controversy of liberal Anglicans in North America tearing at the fray of conservatives in the worldwide Anglican communion. While the Queen is rumoured to have conservative leanings, Dean Stoute preached that the Church of England, at its best, looks for a middle road.
There is “a recognition that we do not have all the answers to the myriad of problems facing us. It is a recognition that, at the heart of the Christian journey, there is an element of mystery. We believe that worship and the Eucharist are central to Anglican self-understanding. It is this worship and awe that propels us to reach out to others with the Gospel of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ.”
To that, the Queen would have been able to say Amen – which, in street language, is simply a hearty yes, and yes again. Everything in the Queen’s world has changed since she ascended her throne, but, somehow, the inner person can have an anchor. It’s no accident that she includes her spiritual inspiration in her symbolic tour to the people of Canada.
It may be complicated and daunting to pursue her inner life in the public eye, but, for the Queen, it’s part of the legacy she hopes to be remembered by. For all of our problems, the Queen modelled to us that faith in the life and practice of Jesus can give perspective for our journey.
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