Queen Elizabeth II comes to York tomorrow. It’s going to be a royal visitation. York will look even cleaner, smarter and pictureque than ever. It’s involved much planning and preparation, and there’ll be increased security. Thousands of people will line the streets to welcome her on Maundy Thursday. It will be a special day.
No doubt the Queen has her faults. She is human like me and like you. And more than ever we know that the royal family make mistakes and are fallible. But nevertheless the Queen is a great woman. She literally is a national treasure.
The Queen has a strong faith in Jesus Christ, modelled to her from a young age by her mother. This comes across clearly in her annual Christmas message which points to Jesus Christ more strongly each year. Last Christmas the clocked reached 3pm in our household between the turkey and the Christmas pudding courses, so those gathered with us for lunch paused eating and we went into the living room to listen to the Queen. By the end a number of us, myself included, were close to tears, sensing the anointing of God’s Spirit on her powerful and clear message of hope to the nation.
You see, the Queen – the person with the greatest authority in the land – is a woman who herself is under authority. She knows that there is a higher power. A greater monarch. And his name is Jesus Christ.
So whilst it’s great to have a visit from the Queen of England in York tomorrow, what we need even more is a royal visitation from the King of Kings! If it’s not his second coming here to earth, then let him come and visit us by his Spirit in revival power. Because it’s his presence that we particularly need in our city, in our region and in our nation.
Psalm 24 is helpful here. It’s a prayer for ‘the king of glory to come in’ to a city. It’s a prayer for a fresh visit from the great king-God. It’s a proclamation to gates and ancient doors to be opened, which is very pertinent to a city like York, which still has its walls and gates. Psalm 24 is a prayer for the great divine King to be welcomed and to be given access. It’s a prayer for God’s presence to come.
Rather like we’ve got ready for the visit of the Queen, we need to be ready for a divine visitation. Are you ready?
Ready to Stand
The lifting up of heads (in v.7) applies to us and means that God wants us to be able to stand confident in his presence when he visits us. That means there should be nothing embarrassing or shameful about our lives that should cause us to hang our heads. If there is, we need to repent of it and receive God’s forgiveness. If we don’t, we wont be able to stand tall. We won’t be ready.
Ready to Speak
According to Psalm 24, when our God-king enters, many will not know him but they’ll want to, because he’ll be seen to be ‘glorious’ – which basically means amazing! People will be asking ‘who is he, this amazing king?’ – ‘who is this king of glory?’ (v.8) Those who know will clearly say: ‘he is the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. He is the Lord Almighty’ (v.8 & 10).
People will be inquisitive. They will ask questions – and followers of Jesus must be ready to speak (rather like we’re told in 1 Peter 3:15 ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reasons for the hope that you have’).
Ready to Serve
When Queen Elizabeth II comes tomorrow, the day is about her. She will be the focus. And rightly so, for she is the Queen. Men will bow and women will curtsey. Eyes will be off others, and on to her. Similarly, when the Great King visits us, the focus will be on him, and women and men will kneel and adore – pleased to be his subjects. That’s because he is who this psalm tells us he is. He is the creator (vv.1-2). The holy one (vv.3-4). The one who blesses and saves (v.5). Whose favour we rightly seek (v6). He is ‘the King’ (v.7). He is ‘strong and mighty’ (v8). He is ‘mighty in battle’ (v.8). He is ‘the King of glory’ (v.9). He is ‘the Lord Almighty’ (v.10). And his name is Jesus Christ (Phil 2:9-10; Col 1:15-20).
If God is like that, then we should willingly submit to him. That is the God that I certainly want the people of York and the North to know, experience and embrace. That is the God worthy of our service.
So come Lord Jesus! Come and visit us with your presence. Come, king of glory! You are welcome.
But are God’s people ready?