TRIBUTE & THANKSGIVING FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH II
It is with profound sadness that we join with our nation, Commonwealth and people across the world in mourning the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We pray that God may draw near to comfort our new King Charles III and all the Royal Family as they mourn, with the hope of the gospel of our risen Lord Jesus Christ in whom our late Queen herself believed.
In losing our beloved Queen, we have lost someone whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in this country. There’ll be a wide range of emotions among us – some of us will be new to the UK or have misgivings about the monarchy – but we can all recognise that our nation has been served for seventy years by a most remarkable sovereign.
Moreover, as Christians, we will want to give thanks to God for a wonderful woman of faith, our sister in Christ, who has served each of us, our nation and our Commonwealth as Queen with an amazing dedication consciously shaped by her faith in our Lord Jesus. While our media has largely ignored this faith, one radio biographer has rightly observed that our late Queen clearly drew inspiration throughout her reign from two great examples, one being her father, King George VI and the other being her father in heaven.
We want to thank God for all that she was to each of us, and perhaps especially for her faithful service, her stable constancy and her public loyalty to our Saviour:
We thank God for her faithful service - In her first Christmas broadcast in 1952, 6 months before her coronation, she asked, 'Pray for me … 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.’ By God’s grace, she has kept that promise for seventy years as the longest serving monarch in our history. She worked a forty hour week well into her nineties, visited 117 countries and sent more than 300,000 birthday cards to centurions. This dedication was clearly driven by her faith in Jesus Christ who said, ‘whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant…for even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark chapter 10). She said this explicitly in her Christmas message in 2012, ‘This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son “to serve, not to be served”. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others’
We thank God for her stable constancy – political commentator Andrew Marr comments in his biography, ‘there are no reliable recorded incidents of the Queen losing her temper, using bad language or refusing to carry out a duty expected of her’. Again, this was resourced by her personal faith, for she said in her Christmas broadcast in 2000, ‘For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life’. Unlike so many of her wider family and leaders of every kind across the world, there has never been a whiff of scandal; and apart perhaps from what many considered a misstep in failing to comment upon the death of Diana (which we now understand was because her priority was caring for her grandchildren), she has been a stable and reassuring presence, devoted to her subjects through times of war and hardship, in times of celebration and triumph, and through upheaval, crisis and relentless change. There was a remarkable power in her personal constancy to unite people of all backgrounds, young and old, evidenced in the four huge jubilee celebrations of her reign.
We thank God for her public loyalty to our Saviour - in her seventy years as Queen, she only ever endorsed one book about her, ‘The servant Queen and the king she serves’ – which commends to the nation the king she served, our Lord Jesus Christ. In 2002 she testified to Christ, saying, ‘I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God... I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian Gospel’. Her public loyalty to Christ continued throughout her reign, e.g. in 2011, she said, ‘Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.’ And in the darkest days of the Coronavirus pandemic, in her 2020 Christmas Eve broadcast from Windsor Castle, where she had been isolating with Prince Philip, she spoke powerfully of the light that no darkness can overcome and referred to Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan, ‘This wonderful story of kindness is still as relevant today. Good Samaritans have emerged across society showing care and respect for all, regardless of gender, race or background, reminding us that each one of us is special and equal in the eyes of God.’ By God’s grace, she remained faithful in testifying to our Saviour to the end. And by such measures, she will surely be judged by history to have been our greatest earthly leader.
What a glorious gift she has been from God - for giving her life in our service, as an instrument of God’s peace among us, we owe her a debt of gratitude beyond measure. In this period of public mourning, let us draw near to God in his Word and in prayer to lament her passing, to give thanks for her example and service, to be refreshed in our hope of seeing her in heaven through the death and resurrection of Christ, and ask God to comfort and bless King Charles III, the royal family, our nation, Commonwealth and world with the hope of God’s gospel in which she trusted, to the glory of God.
Mission Director – Co-Mission