The Archbishop of Canterbury had the challenge of delivering the sermon for Queen Elizabeth II, no small matter! We were up early enough to watch the service live from Westminster Abbey. The pageantry hid, I think, some of the imagery of the service. However, there was no lack of clarity in his sermon. Posted online, The Most Revd Justin Welby wrote a short but astonishingly crystal clear message that reflected the truth of the Gospel and the character of Queen Elizabeth II.
Here is some of that message:
“In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth, and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 1
People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”
Of course, every funeral, prince or pauper, reminds us of our own fragility and mortality. Anyone of any advanced years will tell you that, but even young people gathered around a coffin, a hearse or a grave can see plainly that life is not forever here on earth.
I remember years ago, after doing several family funerals on Wendy’s side of the family saying to her youngest aunt as we stood over the grave of her sister, “you know, we’re getting closer to the front of the line all the time”. Poignant truth if not an unwelcome thought.
And of course, knowing so means being ready.
I thought it was also interesting to see that the Queen’s dogs were awaiting her outside Windsor Castle – did you see that? And with that, the Elizabethan era is over. God save the King.