I cannot recall how young I was when I first watched the Trooping of the Colour that ordinarily takes place on Horse Guards Parade in London each year to mark the official birthday of Her Majesty The Queen. This year, as it did last year, it will take place in the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle; but whether in London or in Berkshire, the Colour will still be “trooped” and generations of tradition will be maintained.
Its origins are to be discovered in the heat and confusion of battles of yore when men, amidst the fog, smoke, thunder and chaos of battle would look for the Colour, carried and defended by the most Junior Officer in a regiment, to which they headed to find their fellows and some modicum of security. There are many heroic tales of such occurrences. Interestingly the last person to die in defending the Queen’s Colour was a Bury Grammar School Old Boy and his monument can be seen in the Kay Hall – another proud and notable achievement for our Borough. Today the Trooping of the Colour provides an opportunity for The Queen’s Guardsmen to display their loyalty to the Sovereign. Secondly, it is a reminder of the way in which the Colour, that is embroidered with the names of many battles down the years and those of more recent times, was and still is, a rallying point behind which Guardsmen focus their belonging, including those who are former members of the Regiment.
As Christians it’s important to reflect how, in our own experience, God has blessed us with so many rallying points from which we derive courage and consolation amidst the heat and chaos of life, when the clouds descend, and the fog seems impenetrable? Primus among them of course is Jesus himself, who is our Lord, constant companion, and friend on the journey of faith. We ought also always to be thankful for the Church, his body on earth, whereby and through the Holy Spirit we receive the Sacraments and God’s Word that sustain us on that journey. Then of course we have the fellowship of believers with whom we share our lives in the place where God has called us to be – in this moment at St Anne’s. In times of sorrow, joy, and the ordinary humdrum of the days and weeks there are those with whom we pray and worship thereby discovering the great gift of true friendship and belonging.
So often in Christian experience it is the Cross of Jesus that is the rallying point to which we turn. It is the Cross which we received at Holy Baptism, the Cross to which we cling throughout our lives, it is the Cross that above all else is the source of hope in which we place our faith.