We are huge fans of the Netflix series “The Crown” in our house and have just finished binge-watching the second season. One particular episode stood out for me, and I have rewatched it a couple of times. For the historians out there, my thoughts are based on the content of the episode rather than historical facts, so you may need to allow me a little poetic license.
After abdicating from the throne to marry the love of his life, the Duke of Windsor lived in exile, unable to return to the United Kingdom without the express permission of the sovereign. During this time he struggled to find purpose, spending his days socialising and partying with his wife Wallis. Under the pretense of writing a book, the Duke travelled to London to explore ways to return to public service. During his visit to the UK, the Queen was alerted to the fact that her Uncle’s loyalties had significantly strayed during the Second World War and she was alarmed to find out about his strong ties to Nazi Germany. Her most unsettling discovery was that the Duke had hatched a plan to overthrow his own brother, reclaim the throne and allow Germany to invade Britain.
In the episode, the Queen met the Duke of Windsor at Buckingham Palace to discuss her findings! She challenged him regarding his allegiance to Adolf Hitler and his willingness to put those who were once his own subjects in danger. Rather than hanging his head in shame, he showed no remorse, defended his actions and suggested that the Queen had “no mind of her own.” In short, he was not even remotely sorry for the hurt he had caused and felt justified in the stance he had taken “for the sake of peace”.
The rest of the story followed the Queen’s struggle with her Christian duty to forgive. Seeking advice from a number of sources she eventually met with the Reverend Billy Graham who was visiting the United Kingdom on a crusade. In their brief but frank discussion, the Bible’s position was made crystal clear.
We must forgive others in the same way that God has forgiven us.
But it’s not always that easy, is it?
With the plotline of The Crown fresh in my mind, I started preparing this Christmas Short and skimmed through the words of “Away in a Manger.” Surely there was nothing new to discover in a set of words I’ve been singing for over 40 years.
Then there it was, in bold, italic font, glaring at me from the page of my songbook!
Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask thee to stay close by me forever
and love me I pray,
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
These words from Scripture quickly came to my mind.
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
And then the question…
Which one of my children are you refusing to bless?
Yeah but... you don't understand...
Hold on a minute. I’m innocently reading through "Away in a Manger", how on earth did we get here?
Right, what do I actually have to do to bless someone?
To bless someone is to “ask God to look favourably on" them.
Yeah but surely forgiving them and then just not thinking about it anymore is enough.
I won’t tell you my answer to the question, but I will say that like many people, I struggle to forgive and bless those who refuse to acknowledge the hurt they have caused. I struggle to forgive those who defend their position or deny any wrongdoing. The injustice of the situation can send me into a tailspin.
As she sat looking for ways to dodge the forgiveness she was required to give, the Queen repeatedly tried to reason a way out of doing the unthinkable. Seeing her struggle, Reverend Billy Graham said these words.
“The solution for being unable to forgive? One asks for forgiveness oneself, humbly and sincerely and one prays for those that one cannot forgive.”
Forgiveness isn’t optional.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
So, I’ll leave you with the same question that has been running through my mind since revisiting the words of "Away in a Manger"…