The twenty-fourth of May/The Queen’s birthday/If we don’t get a holiday/We’ll all run away!”
Two days from now is the actual day. The Queen’s birthday. Queen Victoria that is. But in order to take advantage of a long weekend, we observed it this past weekend. Victoria, Fete de la Reine in French, is a federal statutory holiday and it is usually enjoyed by most Canadians as a welcome day off. Among other names it is also called May Two-Four (this to me sounds as though they’re talking about a case of beer) and the May Long Weekend. Canada is the only country in the Commonwealth that observes the birthday of this long dead Queen.
Canada has been celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday since long before Confederation. This day has been observed through official functions and private parties. In times past people would gather to “give three cheers to the Queen.” This reminds me of a time when one Rev. Archibald Spooner, who was known for his mangled mashed up use of the English language (and from whom we get the term spoonerism) was toasting Queen Victoria in her presence and said “Three cheers for our queer old dean!” I am not sure if he ended up in the Tower of London or not.
I am sure there were many celebrations with parties, fireworks — it was my dog’s Max “favourite” (not!) time of the year — but I doubt that many will stop and toast the Queen. it seems that we get more excited about the celebrations than we do the reason for it. We forget the reason for the celebration.
The same is true in the church today. As an example, how many of you know what the significance of this coming Sunday is? I will give you a hint. Today is the forty-eighth day of Easter and this coming Sunday is the fiftieth day, observes a very important event in the life of the church.
In fact, you could say that it is the church’s birthday.
This Sunday is Pentecost, the some two thousand years ago when the Holy Spirit came and empowered the believers who were gathered in Jerusalem, giving birth to the church. Yet in many churches this day will come and go with scarcely any mention of the day.
Yet we should be excited about this day because it is the reason we can gather to worship God. For without Pentecost, we would be weak and powerless. The Holy Spirit would not be present in our lives.
So celebrate the day, not as you would the birthday of a long dead Queen, but as a time of real joy, joy that comes from above; through the Holy Spirit of God. Rejoice and be glad!