More than diamonds

The next few days will see a wave of royal fervour and nostalgia sweep the United Kingdom such as few have ever seen. Hot on the heels of a massed military parade will come a river pageant and musical spectacular on the River Thames with 1000 boats, 20,000 participants and watched by one million people on the river banks. This will be mirrored by hundreds of smaller events as the trestle tables come out and the bunting goes up. Towns and villages up and down the country are ‘blossoming’ in red, white and blue, as Union Flags are displayed in shops, homes and other places. Somebody tweeted to me earlier this week that they were seeing so much fluttering red white and blue that they were starting to wonder whether this was an eye condition!

There is no doubting that Queen Elizabeth II’s has been a remarkable reign. She has presided over political, technological and social changes which her forebears could never have imagined. When she acceded to the throne there were 3 million cars in the UK – now there are 31 million.  In her coronation year, 30% of the population were able to watch the event on a television which they owned, whereas that figure would now be 99%. A postcard of the event could be posted then for 19p, whereas now it would cost 60p. Average income has climbed in those 60 years from £7,500 to £24,700.  The Queen has presided over all these changes in society whilst also experiencing no small degree of emotional upheaval in her own family.  Through it all she has maintained a keen sense of duty, and has not shirked from speaking on occasions of her Christian faith.

However, jubilees are much older than the House of Windsor. The original idea of the jubilee dates all the way back to the days of Moses in the Old Testament. Every seven years the land was allowed to rest, and every seventh seven year period, a year of Jubilee was declared. On the great day trumpets and Shofars (rams’ horns) were sounded, and it came as music to the ears of the poor. Those who had debts had them forgiven, those who had given away family land to satisfy their debtors had it retuned, and those who had sold themselves as slaves were set free.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there could be some element of that to this jubilee? Information disclosed by Tearfund earlier this week reveals that Africa loses a staggering £3000 per second to corruption in the oil, mining and gas industries. This means that in excess of £16 million will be lost during the time it takes the pageant to make its royal progress down the Thames. The number of hospitals, schools and clinics which could be built with that money beggars belief. As in the days of Moses, the divides between rich and poor are harsh and deep – but they should not be insurmountable.

Do you remember the  Jubilee 2000 campaign, calling for relief of the debt owed by the world’s poorest countries by the year 2000? Sadly the needs were not met, and so it was re-branded as the  Jubilee Debt campaign. The struggle is far from over and the jubilee has not yet come.  Why not visit Tearfund’s Unearth The Truth Campaign to see if you can’t help build a more lasting jubilee for all?

This story is also discussed on the website of Teddington Baptist Church