Sermon for Requiem for HM the Queen: Sunday 10th September 2022
Sermon preached at a Requiem for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
“…history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.”
Those are words from the Queen’s Christmas speech in 2011. One of the most noteable things in our late Queen which so many people commented upon, and which was evident from the way in which she led her life, was her strong Christian faith.
It was admired by people of all faiths and none. It was one of the most important building blocks, if you will, of what made her up as a person and gave her the values and outlook she had.
In her later years we have watched our beloved Queen slow down a little as the years took their toll. She increasingly handed on tasks and responsibilities to others as age had its effect.
And yet, I sense she felt freer in that Indian summer of her life to speak more directly about her experience of faith in Jesus Christ – especially at moments like her Christmas speech.
It never sounded preachy, or exclusive, or divisive. It simply came from the heart. It was her uncomplicated reflection on what it meant to live a life seeking to follow the teachings of Christ, and under his dominion.
At the heart of the matter lies a simple truth. It is not possible to be a monarch and not believe in God. For the gift of monarchy lies in the fact that the monarch herself experiences that role as a calling, a vocation from God.
Yes, it may come with wealth, prestige and honour. But monarchy is most fundamentally an act of service.
It acknowledges that true authority, real power and actual dominion come from God: not from opinion polls, or elections, or referendums, important though they are; not from military might or economic strength, important though they are. But from God.
And that power and authority are to be exercised for the good of the whole human family, created in God’s image.
At the end of this life, we will every one of us have to make the same journey that the Queen has just made from this world to the next. No matter what our station in life, no matter how wealthy we are, or influential we have been, no matter how ordinary or inconsequential we might feel. We all share the same fate and will have to give an account for our actions to the same God.
There is one job I am very glad I don’t have at the moment. That is being a newspaper cartoonist. How on earth at a time of sadness and mourning, does one create a daily newspaper cartoon about the death of a Queen without upsetting people? And yet, I saw a fascinating cartoon the other day produced by the Guardian – a newspaper not exactly known, shall we say, for supine royal loyalty.
It depicted a new Elizabeth line train hurtling off into a tunnel. And on board was the unmistakeable solitary figure of the Queen. At the mouth of the tunnel, a blaze of light and glory met the train, as it passed from this world into whatever awaits us in the next.
I thought it was a master stroke of an image. Respectful and affectionate, and yet thought provoking and truthful.
It pointed very accurately to the fact that whatever else is happening constitutionally this week we have witnessed in the death of our Queen quite simply the passing of one individual from this world to the next.
But there’s just one little thing that cartoonist didn’t get quite right. For as our Queen makes her journey from this world, she doesn’t enter an unknown beyond. I think she knew exactly what awaited her or rather who awaited her.
For her life of faith and service prepared the Queen for that moment when her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ called her home, and bid her enter his heavenly Kingdom. She knew him in this life, and will have embraced him even more deeply in the next.
We ponder today in the Queen a remarkable life lived for others. A life of service and sacrifice, of duty and dedication, of faith and fidelity. If ever someone deserved to hear those words of Jesus it is surely the Queen as she meets her Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.”
Fr Peter Anthony