When a person dies, most of us remember the last time we saw that person. For some of us, those memories may relate to past loved ones, families, parents, or friends.
Over recent weeks many people have mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth 11 and since many have written tributes and messages of condolences, I thought I too should write some brief reflections.
In this post I would like to reflect upon my earliest memories of the Monarch and conclude with a brief perspective on her faith.
In the 1980’s (when I was a boy), my parents took me to London. This was a memorable event and seeing that city for the first time was a monumental experience.
I grew up in the north of England and the Lake District was my favourite place on earth. But still, the thought of going to London took my breath away.
It was a warm day when we arrived in England’s capital. I gazed up at Big Ben in awe and wonder. All around me were red telephone boxes and London taxis. ‘The Queen lives near here‘ I thought.
My parents bought me a souvenir. This was a small Britain’s Deetail Queens Guard metal figure. Afterward they took me to the area of Buckingham Palace. These are memories I cherish very deeply.
Back in those days my parents loved the Royal Family and whenever the Queen appeared on television we all sat around and watched. In our home there was never any challenge of those who were in authority, we accepted rules and that was that. But growing up in the north of England was tough and life was difficult. Many working class people hated the lifestyles of the rich and as a youngster I was horrified to learn that a certain group of protesters had thrown eggs toward the Queen during one of her visits to Manchester. Why would they do that I thought?
Times were changing I suppose. But change does not always bring stability and stableness does not always bring change. Life became tougher and the north became a difficult place to live. But for me, Queen Elizabeth 11 remained an enormous presence and gave our nation a sense of hope, identity and continuity.
I will remember Elizabeth 11 with fondness as the only Queen who will ever reign in my lifetime. All of us have been affected in some way by this extraordinary person and all of us will be effected by the Queens absence. As the saying goes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
When I learned of the passing of Elizabeth 11 on 8th September 2022, I felt chocked. I didn’t believe it. But when I realized it was true, I sat in silence and cried. Perhaps you also felt this way?
On Friday September 9, 2022, I attended an evensong service at Manchester Cathedral and read some of the tributes people had written. There for my first time “God save our gracious King” was sung.
On Monday September 19, the world watched the moderate and appropriate funeral. I too greatly admired the 7 sacred hymns that were performed. Commenting, Rod Benson had this to say:
“The removal of the crown, orb and sceptre to be returned to the high alter at the Queen’s committal was full of appropriate symbolism reminding the world that all human authority is on loan from the King of Kings himself and that he is the one who rightly holds all the instruments of power; conferring them for a finite time onto one of his servants before taking them back at the end of their life to pass onto their successor.”
It should be noted that over more recent years the Queen had become more vocal about her faith. Did you know Elizabeth 11 was Patron of the Bible Society?
This is perhaps reflected in the choice of a particular hymn sung at her funeral. It was based upon Psalm 121: 1, “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills” a favourite Scripture of Mary Jones who’s story inspired the founding of the Bible Society in 1804.
I believe the Queen will leave behind an enormous legacy to this country. We will never see the likes of her reign again. Like many people, I am very thankful for the commitment, loyalty and uprightness with which the Queen lived out a life of service.
But no matter who we are, rich or poor, blind or lame, weak or strong, all our lives will come to an end. What happens then? For those who live for this life only, life is but a fleeting moment. But those who live for Jesus Christ live for an eternal destiny in glory.
As a Christian I believe all those who are in the faith are brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no inequality in Him. All my life my late mother Joyce, would sing the words of the famous hymn, “I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross, and exchange it some day, for a crown.” It is an eternal truth that in heaven there will be no kings or queens, no rich or poor, no hatred or division, we will all be made equal and we will all wear a crown.
Queen Elizabeth 11 believed that Jesus Christ has made all things new and when He returns the dead will rise again, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5: 29)
Speaking about her faith, in 2011, the Queen said this, “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.”
I believe those words are thoughtful, and to be cherished.
As we remember the Queen, please do not forget her faith. Because we all have evil within us and power in the wrong hands can be lethal. We all have the Queens faith to thank for her many years of service and strength. In this world we need peacemakers who are willing to give their lives in the service of others. Let us not forget that as God loves us, He gave us so great a gift, Christ Jesus King of Kings, and without Him we have no hope.