Boring, austere, old-fashioned and out of touch. These are possibly the words that spring to mind for many when they think of Queen Victoria. They are also the words that spring to mind for many when they hear the word ‘church’. Further investigation, however, reveals something rather different.
In a letter Victoria wrote of her wedding night, “It was a gratifying and bewildering experience. I never, never spent such an evening. His excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness. He clasped me in his arms and we kissed each other again and again.” This was the beginning of a passionate love affair with Albert – they even installed a device that allowed them to lock the bedroom door without having to leave the bed!
As with Victoria so with the people of God. At the heart of the Old Testament we find the Song of Solomon, a passionate love poem, widely held to be an allegory depicting the love God has for his people, and including these lines, “My lover is mine and I am his… All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves… How delightful is your love… more pleasing than wine.”
Perhaps on reflection then we may have misjudged both Victoria and the church.