If you take a look at the Old Testament you’ll see that the Jewish calendar was full of festivals each celebrating and aspect of God’s faithfulness to their nation. Probably the ones we’re most familiar with are Passover and Pentecost. These festivals are still by and large an important aspect of the Israel’s identity. Festivals are a chance for nations to reaffirm what is important to them, to reflect on their history and to strengthen their community bonds.
In the UK beyond Christmas and to a lesser extent Easter, we’re not so great at doing festivals well on a national scale. There are still plenty of regional and local ones but on the whole we’re not good at coming together and celebrating our sense of Britishness. The more we identify with our commonality, the more likely we are to care about the state of our nation and the welfare of others.
It’s therefore exciting to see the way that we’ve embraced the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year. This is not because we should be harking back to an age of imperialism and believing we’re superior as a nation in any way, but rather it gives us the opportunity to celebrate one of the few things that binds us together. The Queen has been a point of stability and an ambassador for the Christian faith as the decades have brought change and upheaval.
More importantly such an occasion is drawing communities together. In my part of the world there are plenty of street parties being organised. People who have lived in close proximity are talking to each other and building relationships sometimes for the first time.
Those of us who are part of strong church families will know the benefits that being part of a community brings. As we delve into the Bible we can see that it’s part of God’s design for our lives to live in communion with others. Anything that brings us together with those around us to form closer links and ties should indeed be celebrated.
If you have the opportunity to get to know others over the jubilee weekend then make the most of it. Who knows what benefits it might bring?
Update: I’ve had it pointed out to me that the £10bn generated for the British economy may be a bit suspect. Bank of England governor Mervyn King thinks the weekend is more likely to lose us money overall.