Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…” Luke 6:37
No matter what one feels about the British monarchy as an institution, we all must acknowledge the enduring reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who served as queen for 70 years. Many of us cannot remember a time when she was not Queen of England. I have vivid memories of being with my grandparents in June of 1969, watching on their color television (we had a black and white at our home) as Queen Elizabeth invested her eldest son Prince Charles (now King Charles III) as Prince of Wales. It was a very impressive ceremony. I remember my grandmother explaining to me that, as Prince of Wales, he would be the next King of England. That was 53 years ago!
There are a great many things being said and written about Queen Elizabeth II. I am most attracted to the stories of her faithfulness, a faithfulness that she made clear each Christmas in her addresses. These were a rare occasion when she was allowed to say what she had, in fact, written herself.
Of these, perhaps the most compelling was delivered in 2011. Earlier that year at the invitation of President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, she had made an historic visit to the Republic of Ireland. It was the first visit of a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland in 100 years. Of course, in the decades before that visit there had been great animosity and violence between people of England and Ireland, the so-called “troubles.”
In her 2011 Christmas address, Queen Elizabeth made reference to this saying, “Relationships that years ago were once so strained have through sorrow and forgiveness blossomed into long-term friendship.” Later in the address, she said:
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. ‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person—neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
It was the perfect message for Christmas 2011. It is a perfect message for today and every day.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints,
Where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
(BCP p. 499)
Blessings and peace,
The Right Rev. William H. Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey
 See “Queen Elizabeth’s Faith” at the Christianity.org website found at https://christianity.org.uk/article/queen-elizabeths-faith
 “In full: Queen’s Christmas Speech” – 25 December 2011 on the BBC website found at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-16328899
 See Wikipedia – “State visit by Elizabeth II to the Republic of Ireland” found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_visit_by_Elizabeth_II_to_the_Republic_of_Ireland
 Art. cit.
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