Sermon on the day before the funeral service of HM The Queen 18 September 2022
Last Sunday following the death of Queen Elizabeth, I was fortunate to hear two very meaningful sermons on the passing of our Queen. Firstly, from my fellow Reader Richard Austen at our morning service, and then in the evening, at a sung Evensong Service at St. Anne’s, the sermon from our own Vicar Melanie.
It is never easy to find the right words to express the sense of loss and feeling that comes from the sudden passing of one who has either been known, or recognised as part of one’s life over many years. During the last eleven days our papers, televisions, laptops. I-phones and many other forms of social communications have availed us of every aspect of our late Queen’s life and her long journey from her death at Balmoral to what tomorrow will be her final journey to her resting place at Windsor Castle.
Many millions of people in the United Kingdom and throughout the world, have mourned the passing of our Queen, with many, many thousands showing their last respects at her coffin. Lying in State, both here in London and previously in Edinburgh. For without doubt, we shall not see Her Majesty’s like again.
The last few years here in our own country we have gone through the issue of Brexit, the trauma of the Pandemic and now financial uncertainty, while on the world stage there have also been the war in Ukraine, floods, wild fires and droughts resulting from Global Warming. I very much feel that many in this country, as well as in many other parts of the world, have almost reached ‘the end of their tether’, and rather like a shaken bottle have been ready to pop!
I believe that in some ways the passing of Queen Elizabeth has allowed that cork to come out of the bottle, and all that pent up feeing and emotion has been able to show itself, while bringing back memories of our own personal grief for those we have lost, in the love and loss we have all felt at the passing of our Monarch.
We know how much Queen Elizabeth lived her life following in the footsteps of our Lord. Jesus showed us in his life that expressing emotion, himself crying over the death of his friend Lazarus, was a very natural and necessary outpouring of one’s feelings of grief.
Few of us here today have probably met our Queen, but as with myself, she has been a constant, ever present force through all the ups and downs, the comings and goings of nearly, in my case, seventy years.
We know full well, as the media always reminds us, that the Queen was not perfect, she too had ups and downs within her and her families' lives. Yet from the very beginning of her reign she promised to serve us all and I do not believe that there is anyone here today who does not believe that she held to that promise throughout her life; a promise that her son, now our King Charles, has also promised to uphold.
In the reading from the first letter of Paul to Timothy that was set for today, it is written:
“My dearly beloved, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all.”
Our late Queen lived her whole life in the true knowledge of Christ’s truth, and the ransom he paid for us all.
As Melanie quoted in her sermon of last Sunday evening, our new Prince of Wales wrote: “My grandmother famously said that grief was the price we pay for love. All of the sadness we will feel in the coming weeks will be a testament to the love we felt for our extraordinary Queen.”
It is indeed right to grieve and to mourn for out late Queen, who tomorrow will at last be put to rest, but as her other grandson, Prince Harry, wrote:
“ We, too, smile knowing that you and grandpa are reunited now, and both together in peace”.
Finally in the words of the Poet laureate, Simon Armitage;
“The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands, Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight.
Our Queen is dead, may she rest in peace; long live the King.