I know that my Redeemer lives
and he will stand upon the earth at last
and after my body has decayed
yet in my body I will see God
I will see him for myself
yes and I will see him with my own eyes
I am overwhelmed at the thought
job 19: 25-27
"As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility
has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation, and society."
By these words, Archbishop Welby started his statement after the announcement of the Queen's death.
Undoubtedly, by her death, one of the world's most famous and faithful Christian leaders, we mark the end of an era. It will take a long time to come to terms with the death of our beloved Queen Elizabeth. So, wherever we may be, and whatever we may think about the institution of monarchy, these last two days, millions of people around the globe are lamenting the loss of a woman whose public service and Christian witness shone brightly for more than 70 years.
At times like this, the right words are hard to find. However, we at the parish of Old Windsor are most honoured to have the Queen as our parish’s patron. Moreover, and on a more personal note, as I was celebrating my 7th anniversary since I started in the parish (7th September 2015), I consider it an exceptional honour to receive my letters of appointment from Her Majesty. At the beginning of my ministry, I remember a book published under the title " The Servant Queen and the king she serves." It was an attribute for her majesty’s 90th birthday. This book said a lot…it said it all. As a minister for Christ and His church, I was uplifted to see the beloved Queen as an outstanding whole-life disciple of Jesus, someone whose faith shapes all they do and say. She never hesitates to speak out about her faith and trust in Christ and the difference he made in her life. She was God's gift to the nation, Commonwealth and indeed the global community, a beacon of humility, grace, good humour, generosity, and deep faith – God's woman, God's follower, God's Queen.
In the following, I would like to recall two occasions from the Queen's life, out of many, that speaks louder than many sermons.
1. On Christmas Day 1952, the new 26-year-old monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth nations, spoke for the first time to the world in what was to become her annual Christmas broadcast.
“pray for me,” she asked, “that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve him and you, all the days of my life.”
It was a prayer God answered. Elizabeth would make a series of solemn promises 6 months later at her coronation, which she kept faithfully for the next 70 years. The newly crowned queen promised three things: to govern appropriately, to maintain justice, and to profess the gospel of Christ. All this she surely did until her final breath.
2. In her Christmas broadcast of 2000, the Queen reflected on the Millennium year with complete honesty about the importance of her own personal faith
“For me,” she said, “the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.”
Almost 22 years after that speech, we witness contemporary leaders failing and falling all around us at an unprecedented rate. Notions of duty, promise-keeping, and accountability to God can seem old-fashioned and even naïve. But at such a time Queen Elizabeth's lifelong example of consistency in private faith and integrity in public service is both startling and inspiring.
May her majesty rest in peace and rise in glory
And may each of us rise to the challenge of her glorious example.