Associate Minister's June Letter

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Why do we celebrate a diamond jubilee after 60 years?  It is all thanks to Queen Victoria.  Up to that time a diamond jubilee marked 75 years but in September 1896 Queen Victoria overtook George III as the longest reigning British monarch.  She asked that any celebrations be delayed until her reign reached 60 years which it did in June 1897.  That became her Diamond Jubilee.

Since then 60 years has become associated with diamonds whatever we are celebrating.  It certainly makes sense!  How many diamond wedding anniversaries would we have if 75 years was the target?

Why do we use the word Jubilee for this special celebration?  It is a word which comes from the Old Testament where is means simply a ram’s horn which was sounded to celebrate the beginning of the 50th year.  According to Leviticus Chapter 25 every seventh year the land was to be left fallow.  Then after seven cycles of seven years – 49 years – a further year – the fiftieth - was to be kept special – the Jubilee.  

It is good to look at the threefold purpose of that Jubilee year as we celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and see how relevant it is for our own time:

Rest – rest for workers and rest for the land.  It is brilliant that we are having an extra bank holiday over the Jubilee weekend – a symbol of God’s desire that we live free from stress and anxiety.  A reminder too that we cannot go on exploiting nature forever.

Restitution – the Jubilee year was to be a time when debts were cancelled and when those who had sold their property were given back their land.  Everyone was to start again with a fair distribution of wealth.  Something we so desperately need in our modern world.

Faith – in the jubilee year nothing was planted for a second year running.  We are not told what people had to live on but God promised to provide.  The Bible doesn’t tell us how people managed that year but one thing is sure: their faith and trust in God was stretched to the limit and they discovered afresh that they could put their trust in Him.  Something which God wants us to discover in our modern world as we live with so much uncertainty about the future.

Faith has been at the core of the Queen’s life throughout these 60 years – how thankful we are for all that she means to us.

Revd Christopher Cant


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