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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
'The steadfastness of a faithful sovereign'
This is the full text of the Golden Jubilee sermon given on Tuesday by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey at a service at St Paul's Cathedral in London.
Four hundred years ago, Queen Elizabeth I addressed her people in words that history has handed down to us as her Golden Speech.
'Though God hath raised me high,' she said, 'I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves.'
Today, at the height of another Elizabethan reign, we may speak again of love and glory, and of the steadfastness of a faithful sovereign.
Here, now, in this great cathedral, we give thanks, Your Majesty, for your devotion and dedication over 50 extraordinary years.
And we offer in return our respect, our admiration and, yes, our love.
That has been expressed in so many ways and so many places as you have travelled the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
In recent days alone, it has been marked in song and dance, in street parties and pageants; it has been celebrated in public parks and palace grounds; it has been heralded by fireworks and beacons.
And we give thanks, Your Majesty, that, though flames have burnt bright in many places, those inside the Palace were soon extinguished!
The range of our continuing celebrations tells us something important.
They tell us that, unlike so much in the modern world, this relationship, the one between sovereign and people, has grown stronger and deeper with the passage of time.
That is something special that we celebrate here today - along with millions watching and listening round the world.
Yours, as many have noted, has been a reign in which change and innovation have been watchwords.
And yet we sense, indeed we know, in you an abiding constancy, anchored in a profound commitment to service.
To contemporary ears, 'service' can sometimes sound a cold, a teeth-gritting sort of word.
Something better avoided if something less demanding, more self-serving, is available.
But the Gospel reading chosen for this act of worship emphasises the glory of service.
'Among you, whoever would be great must be your servant ... For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.'
Those challenging words are a powerful affirmation of the changeless truth, taught by Christ himself in his life and death for us, that real greatness finds its fullest expression in serving others.
And that truth has been reflected throughout your reign.
In your commitment to service, we have seen not the denial of life but its rich and glorious affirmation.
And from your elevated and noble position how greatly you have served!
Yours was a vocation which you did not seek; it was a task to which you were anointed.
It came to you at an age when few people are ready to assume burdens of responsibility, even far lighter ones.
It was, as you have publicly acknowledged, required of you, not just by your people but by God.
Faith in God
And your faith has helped to sustain you. You made that clear in your Millennium Christmas message, telling us directly: 'The teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to live my life.'
Of course, an abiding commitment to faithful service does not make life simple or easy.
Indeed, there comes with it a recognition that none of us is immune from suffering and pain, whatever our role or place in the world.
Even now, your Jubilee is tinged with sadness, in the absence of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, whom we remember today with affection and gratitude.
But in your mourning we saw again what help and succour the bonds of family life can give.
We honour today your own commitment to family. We honour especially Prince Philip, whose unswerving support and energy of vision have been so crucial in the necessary evolution of the Monarchy during this time.
Change over the last half century has made of the United Kingdom a society of increasingly diverse cultures and creeds.
Here too your constant example on behalf of us all has helped to bind us together in a sense of shared purpose and endeavour.
That dedication has also been evident in the wider world and nowhere more so than in the creation and development of the Commonwealth.
We have seen there, so clearly, both the steadfastness of your commitment and the pleasure you have taken in it.
For the Christian call to service is not just about a willingness to make sacrifices for others.
It is also about joy, a joy that flows from a deep engagement in the marvellous richness of human experience and potential.
'Labour of Love'
It is at heart a labour of love. It finds in love - expressed in the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ - the fundamental impulse of God's creation.
It recognises love as the power to transform and transcend all, as the cornerstone of our hope for the future of humankind.
It allows us, indeed calls us, to look to that future, with all the myriad changes and challenges it will continue to bring, not with fear and faint hearts, but with openness and expectation.
We find this enduring vision woven through the fabric of your reign like a golden thread.
And that is why those words uttered four centuries ago by another Elizabeth are right for us here, today: 'Though God hath raised me high,' she said, 'I count the glory of my Crown that I have reigned with your loves.'
Your Majesty, Elizabeth our Queen, you have the respect and affection of your people: you do indeed 'reign with our loves'.
For your servanthood is the glory of your reign.
And, today, we thank God for it.
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