My prize possession is an old grandfather clock which has been passed down through my family. It dates from about 1800. There are four little pictures on its face- Winter, Spring….. Waterloo and Trafalgar. (Summer and Autumn were overpainted in memory of those two great British victories.) So for 220 years it has tick tocked away on the kitchen wall of various Gray family farmhouses. Its been doing it for 80,300 days; it has struck the hour on 1,927,200 occasions. That’s a total of 12,526,800 individual ‘Bongs.’
It’s 50 years older than Big Ben; it’s lived through 8 monarchs; it’s seen off the Industrial Revolution, the two world wars, the Great Depression and so much more. Through all of that, morning, noon and night it just tick tocks away. Reliable, comforting, unchanging. Undramatic and unglamorous; workmanlike and practical.
The Queen’s inspiring and comforting broadcast had many of the same qualities. It symbolises ‘unchanging changelessness’ in the worlds of the Prayer Book. It was about concern for all; steadfastness; determination to see it through. Her own remarkable reign, and the way she reminisced about her first ever broadcast some 80 years ago was of itself hugely comforting. Together we will get through it.
People have been going through a very tough time in so many ways, and there is more to come. Physically it’s an appalling disease, as we witness watching Boris Johnson. (And no matter what your political views may be, I hope that you will join me in wishing him well. I am extremely glad he is now out of Intensive Care.) There are terrible economic hardships already, and more to come. Some people have been having a thoroughly miserable time cooped up in their flats and houses; intra family stresses and strains no doubt showing up from time to time. It’s been a pretty awful few weeks, and we are not out of it yet.
So the tough, determined optimism of the Queen’s broadcast (and after all she has seen some pretty terrible times in her 93 years, both personally and nationally) is just what we all needed. The old clock’s reliability over 220 years in all weathers, and no matter what was happening in the wider world may have a lesson for us all. We can get through all this. We will get through it. But we have to hold together, do what is right, and look forward to better times to come.
Easter is about that too. An appalling crime, a catastrophe, the inhumane wickedness of the Crucifixion on Good Friday, saw the murder of the Messiah. Or so Herod hoped and thought. But only two days later the joy of Easter Morning is that he rose from the dead, and proved the naysayers wrong. Easter is all about hope triumphing over despair, defeating wickedness.
And in modern terms the spring weather, the lambs frolicking, the first swallows returning, the green grass growing, the cows turned out for the first time; these are all signs of hope for the future.
So wherever you are, whatever you may be experiencing or facing, I wish you a very Happy Easter, and confidence of better times to come.