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Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Sermon on the death of HM The Queen 11 September 2022

This is not the sermon I had prepared for today. This week has brought us a major change in our country. We had been anticipating the death of our beloved Queen for some time. But only on Tuesday she received our new Prime Minister and then on Thursday she departed this life.

The Gospel reading we should have had today would also have been quite apt for today. It was the story in St Luke of the Good Shepherd bringing a lost lamb home. One can imagine our Good Shepherd welcoming The Queen into his loving arms and I have no doubt that, as they reached the gates of heaven, there was much rejoicing over her arrival. The Queen was not perfect, none of us are, she was a sinner for whom Christ died as much as any of us, but she accepted the good news of Jesus and made it the foundation of her life.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph on Friday the Archbishop of York said:

Queen Elizabeth made no secret of the fact that the Christian faith and a disciplined life of duty and devotion were the source of her guidance and a constant solace. “For me,” she said, “the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing”

Not only was Jesus her saviour, he was her role model, as he should be ours.

Just over a week ago I attended the Southwark Diocesan conference for Clergy and Readers in Rotherhithe. It was a three-day event and there were some interesting sessions, which have provided me with food for thought and for Sermon content in the future. But on the last morning, we had a speaker who spoke about what he called a “disciple led” church. He acknowledged that all that is necessary for our redemption is to accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. But he then went on to say that he did not think that God just wants a church full of observers and those willing to accept his gift and then not pass it on. He wants a church full of active Disciples, because there are an awful lot of people out there who know nothing about our faith and perhaps don’t care that much. He said that we are all called to connect with the communities in which we live for God. Not necessarily easy. But The Queen did it. In her Christmas and many other addresses and in her life, she witnessed to the World that she was an active disciple of Jesus.

We are in for a period of readjustment. There will be tears and much sadness. We still have a State funeral to get through and there will be disbelief and real grief. But the Queen, in her witness to Jesus, also realised that. The Queen never wrote a book and as far as I understand it, she only ever once wrote the forward to a book, which I think she intended us to read again once she had died. The book was a wonderful small edition published by the Bible Society on the eve of her 90th birthday entitled “The servant Queen and the King she serves”. Her Majesty knew that her days on this earth were numbered and in that forward, she reminded us of the importance of faith in God. She wrote:

“I have been – and remain – very grateful to you and to God for his steadfast love. I have indeed seen his faithfulness”. She went on to say:

“As I embark on my 91st year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the words of a poem quoted by my father, King George Vl in his Christmas broadcast in 1939, the year that the country went to War for the second time in a quarter of a century.

“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way”

Her Majesty never failed to put her hand into the hand of God. Her example and faith are an inspiration to us all. The hand of God, still holding her hand, has, I am sure, now led her into the courts of heaven. While we grieve, we should also be glad and very grateful.

To quote Shakespeare and The King “May flights of angels sing her to her rest.”

May She rest in peace and rise in Glory.

God save the King.

Richard Austen

Cover image by WikiImages from Pixabay


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