Where were you when you heard that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away? I was camping in the Northern Territory of Australia, waking up to another warm and humid day, with beads of sweat already trickling down my face. Upon receiving the sad news, a few tears of grief added to the moisture as I sat with some memories you may resonate with too:
*The weekly pledge my Aussie classmates and I recited at primary school… ‘I love God and my country. I honour the flag, I serve the Queen, and cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the law.’
*The fact that an English woman I never met in this life, has been ‘my queen’ for the entire span of my lifetime, shaping me in ways I cannot yet comprehend.
*The sobering thought that death comes to us all, either suddenly or painfully drawn out, whether we are ready for it, or not.
*The smile on the face of my beloved Nanna when she discussed all the royal family gossip.
*The truth that I am part of an even bigger royal family and I will indeed meet ‘Lilibet’ as a sister in Christ.
Those latter thoughts added joyful emotion into the teary mix.
It is reported that over four billion people watched her funeral – just try to get your mind around that! Has there ever been an event in history where half the planet’s population actually stopped… quietly, respectfully and united for a handful of peace and wonder filled hours? Has the Good News of Jesus ever been proclaimed to the world through beautiful Scripture and angelic song like it was on Monday 19 September, 2022?
God is up to something here friends, and one day we will marvel at the remarkable stories surrounding these events – ones that that will impact and echo throughout eternity.
But as I mourn the absence of her presence on earth, I don’t know if we can truly comprehend what we have actually lost in this life – personally, communally, nationally and globally. Lilibet was an ordinary human woman, who, like us, needed to eat and sleep and do everything else we need to do in our bodies. But Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II was appointed for an extraordinary life – a life used by God to bring a measure of stability and grace to the world. Much of her life and reign gave us glimpses of the tension we live in – the space between the realities of the kingdom of God and the brokenness of our world. But for over 70 years her life and reign certainly did provide reflections of her King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who reigns victoriously now and forever.
In answer to billions of prayers lifted to God through the song, ‘God Save the Queen’, I truly thank God for saving His daughter Lilibet – who from all accounts, held a very personal Christian faith in the midst of all her public duties and family trials. Her funeral recession song declared that nothing in the universe can ever separate her, or us, from the love of God in Christ. Yes, this amazing woman planned her own funeral with the purpose of glorifying God and blessing the people in her care, just as she took every opportunity to proclaim the saving hope of Jesus through her Easter and Christmas messages.
One particular Christmas Day in 2011, when our Bethany Joy was agonisingly passing from this world into her heavenly Home, we desperately needed these life-giving words, written and announced out loud by the Queen:
‘Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our own recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher or a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive… It is my prayer that on this Christmas Day we might find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.’
Amen to that dear Lilibet. Well done good and faithful servant.
Enter into the joy of your reward and we will meet you in that glorious place real soon.