Service, servant, serve – words used repeatedly in tributes to the late Queen, but what do these words mean? We speak of prisoners serving a sentence, we speak of people serving in the military or the police force, and on a more personal level, I serve in The Rock. We speak of an annual service for a car or a gas boiler, we have a civil service, we also use the word service for what we do in Bethel at 10.30 on a Sunday. Let’s consider the latter from a different perspective, a linguistic one. In English, we have many different words – church service, communion service, funeral service, worship service, matins, mass, Christingle, among many others. Both Russian and German surpass all these with the words they use – богослужение and gottdienst. Both translate as a “God-service”, and both start by putting God first – for me, this is a reminder of why we do what we do. Going back to the Queen’s tributes, as well as service, the other quality mentioned was her deep personal faith, yet no-one seemed to make the link between her faith and her life of service. Although the Queen attended church regularly, she didn’t spend her life in church, and I’ve no idea whether she spoke Russian or German, yet she spent her whole life in God-service – she was able to do what she did, and do it so well, because she was serving the God whom she loved. Serving the country was her way of serving God. Of course, not everyone will serve God as a monarch, this is made clear in Romans 12 v4 & v6; but however we serve, we can strive to serve better, and always look for opportunities to do more, and in different ways.

Alan Palmer