Bishop leads BBC Daily Service in memory of Her Majesty The QueenWednesday 14th September 2022
Bishop John has joined faith leaders across the nation in a special series of services paying tribute to Her Majesty the Queen.
Airing on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 14th September, Bishop John gives thanks for the constant, calm presence that hallmarked Her Majesty’s reign of service, and offers words of comfort and encouragement as we reflect upon the true message of Christianity: the hope of the resurrection.
You can listen to Bishop John by clicking here or by reading his message below:
What difficult days for us all as we absorb the sadness of the news of the Queen’s death. For many of us, it is going to take a while for that sad truth of her death to become a reality. She has been such a permanent person of unity for our nation. For most of us, she has been our Queen for the whole of our lives. She has been an abiding presence. She is someone who stood above the daily politics, giving a sense of calm presence in the leadership of our nation, even in the most turbulent of times.
Perhaps, after the immediate shock of the news of her death, this is a good time to see how best we might live with that sense of bereavement in a positive and encouraging way. Whenever we suffer the loss of a family member or friend, there are positive steps that we can be encouraged to take that show a respect for the one who has died and perhaps challenge us in the way we try to live our own lives.
A first step might be to deliberately take time to value and give thanks for all that the person has been for us, the way that they have blessed our lives by their actions and presence. When we have lost a close family member or friend, the memories can be very real, of kindnesses they have shown, of events and moments that we have shared together. As we mourn the loss of our Queen, there are so many ways in which we may find reason for thanksgiving. Her public service. Her constancy. Her calming reassurance in times of difficulty. Can we bring to mind specific moments when we felt grateful for something that she did, a message she gave? Those important moments that we each choose may be very different for each of us, but they are reasons for gratitude and thanksgiving. Memories are particularly important in these moments of sadness and loss.
A second aspect to our grieving lies in our privilege to pray for the Queen, now called from this life. Her Christian Faith was strong and shaped her life and her principles. Christians are called to pray for one another, and this is an especially important moment when a fellow Christian dies and we can commend her to God. She lived her Faith in the belief that death is not the end, life is changed not ended. If we have brought to mind moments for which we are very grateful in her life, then these are the moments that we can present in prayer and thanksgiving on her behalf.
St Paul reminds us of both that invitation to prayer and God’s love for us, in his Letter to the Romans:
“The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit makes for God’s holy people are always in accordance with the mind of God.
“After saying this, what can we add? If God is for us, who can be against us? Since he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for the sake of all of us, then can we not expect that with him he will freely give us all his gifts? …. For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The loss of a person close to us, or important to our lives, gives us an opportunity to celebrate who they were and what they achieved. We can pay a great tribute to them through our imitation of their gifts and adopting in our own lives those best values that we saw in them. What a tribute we can make to a person’s memory and achievements by adopting and demonstrating the best of their gifts in the way that we live. Let’s take the best of the values that we saw in the life and goodness of Queen Elizabeth and demonstrate them as best we can in our own lives.
So many of the qualities which we can see in Queen Elizabeth’s life are needed in the life of our four nations today. We must combat poverty and the ills of our society that cause division, violence, relationship breakdown, mental illness. We must ensure that everyone has sustainable livelihoods and can live with a sense of security and well-being. We are on a journey, and we must always look for God’s guidance, as we hear in the hymn: Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer.
Let us pray:
Almighty and Loving God,
We give thanks for the life and goodness of Queen Elizabeth.
You have called her, after a long and fruitful life, to Yourself.
We give thanks for all that she achieved in her unique role as our sovereign Queen.
We ask you to receive her into your presence and to reward her for her goodness and constancy.
May all she achieved live on in the qualities we encourage and embrace in the life of our nation.
Learning from her goodness, may we be guided in the right way,
Caring for our common home and ensuring the dignity of every person,
Both within our nation and beyond.
By following her example, may we all recognise that we have a part to play
In making our world a better place, for all.
We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord.