Welcomed Home

We knew the day would come, it was inevitable, and yet it was quite sudden and unexpected so has left everyone saddened and shocked.

The passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II will affect every one of our lives, and not only in this country but for millions around the world.

I have heard a few people say, when interviewed outside Buckingham Palace or one of the other royal family homes, that they are not usually emotional, but they have found themselves shedding a tear. For those of you who know me, shedding a tear, indeed many a tear is always inevitable, and I know there will be lots more.

It is difficult to write something that hasn’t already been said, read or heard during these first few days after her death. Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable lady who touched the hearts and lives of, not only the rich, famous, and powerful, but ordinary men and women whatever their status or station.

I had never met our Queen in real life and yet I was deeply saddened at the news of her death.  I had thought earlier in the year, when she wasn’t too well, that she would ‘keep going’ for her Jubilee celebrations. If anyone was determined to celebrate her 70 years on the throne, then she was!  It was then two months ago that she, along with us, knew the country would be getting a new Prime Minister, so again I could imagine her thinking, she would ‘keep going’ for that, another significant act of duty.  Once she had welcomed Liz Truss as the new leader of our parliament, I can again imagine her thinking, ‘well, that’s it. I’ve done my duty, it’s time now to rest’.

It was interesting to hear one of the presenters on the television more or less saying the same thing. After her duties this week, he said, she then relaxed and quietly passed away.

This almost sounds as though she was in control, but as Queen Elizabeth rested, it was the Lord God Almighty who called her and received and welcomed her home. As David White, the Garter King of Arms said, in proclaiming Charles to be King, it ‘pleased Almighty God to call to his mercy our late Sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth II’, and so now Prince Charles becomes King Charles III.

King Charles, in concluding his address to the nation, used moving words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Giving thanks to his Mama, he adds, ‘May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest’.

‘Famous last words’ is more than a cliché. When someone of importance and influence is nearing death, the world waits to hear their final words of insight and wisdom. It is the same with the dying of a loved one. Gathered at the bedside, the family lean over and try and hear every whispered word of blessing, and uttering of encouragement and advice, knowing this will be the final message.  I doubt anyone will ever know what the Queen’s final words were, but it is lovely to know she died peacefully with some of her family beside her.

One of the most knowledgeable, influential and beloved men of history is the apostle Paul in the New Testament. St Paul was facing death. He was not ill; indeed he was very much alive, but convicted as a follower of Jesus, he was in a cold prison cell awaiting his execution. It is here that Paul writes his second letter to his friend Timothy, and we have Paul’s final words. He wrote,

‘For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…’ (2 Tim 4 v6-8)

A drink offering consisted of wine poured out on an altar as a sacrifice to God. Paul viewed his life as an offering to God. He had been faithful to his calling and the time had now come for him to leave this earth.

Wouldn’t it be good, if we could confidently say we have been faithful to God and done all that he has asked us to do. Life was not easy for St Paul. It is not always easy for any of us and certainly the Queen endured some difficult seasons in her life. Yet she remained constant and steadfast. Constant in that she was always there, even though change occurred during her lifetime, she was ‘constant and reassuring’. Queen Elizabeth was also steadfast, in that she was ‘firm, loyal and unwavering’ in her Faith, her Service, her Love and her Hope.

Queen Elizabeth served us well, she has finished the race, and done more than anyone could have asked. Now she has bowed her knee before the greatest of all Royalty and placed her crown at the feet of Jesus. Jesus the greatest of all servants and yet Saviour of our world, has welcomed her home.

As Young Prince Louis said to his mummy, in response to the passing of our Queen, “at least Granny is with Great Grandpa now.”

God bless Queen Elizabeth. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.