On 21st April 1947, at the age of 21, Princess Elizabeth spoke possibly some of her most famous words: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.” 75 years of constant, tireless service later, as we face the prospect of saying goodbye to this same princess, our Queen, for the last time, we do so witnessing something that is barely ever seen of someone in the public eye, even less so of someone at the forefront of world leadership – and that is a promise fulfilled.
Queen Elizabeth was the Servant Queen who served.
And what has unfolded over these last few days is something we may never see again. The outpouring of love and grief for a world leader who remained faithful to her promise to the very end of her days, as she served to the uttermost. More than that, she was someone who was unafraid to speak of her faith in Jesus, and unafraid to call him her Lord and King.
Queen Elizabeth called this Jesus Lord and King because of what HE said thousands of years before Elizabeth was born. Where, in front of his followers he said, “the Son of Man has come, not to be served, but to serve… and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The Son of Man was Jesus’ favourite name for himself. And he dedicated himself to a life of service unlike any Monarch before or since. For what unfolded from that moment in history was something that can’t be seen again… as this king, this Son of Man, Jesus Christ, lived the perfect life and truly served his people, by dying on a cross in our place… the ultimate sacrifice to rescue us from our wrongdoing as he saved to the uttermost. However, he didn’t remain dead, rather three days later he rose again, promising life beyond death for all those who believe in him and call on his name.
And Queen Elizabeth II was one of those people. As she said herself in her Christmas broadcasts; in 2012 she spoke of “God, who sent His son to serve not to be served and in doing so restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ…” In 2014 she told us that, “for me the life of Jesus Christ is an inspiration and the anchor of my life…” And in 2016 she unashamedly reminded us that “Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find him the guiding light in their lives. I am one of them”.
Queen Elizabeth believed in the Servant King who Died.
That is what we remember and celebrate and give thanks for as we grieve Queen Elizabeth’s death and as we warmly remember her life: that of her strong Christian faith and testimony, her life-long commitment to serve her people, and her love for her King with whom she is now raised in glory. We pray that in this God will comfort the Royal Family and will draw near to them through these dark days of loss and pain. But we pray that it would also be a comfort and example to us left behind, as we face the reality of living without someone we never imagined living without… and the words of a recently penned hymn for this very moment prays for us on our behalf the truth that, in glory, trusting in Jesus the King, we will meet again:
When our days are at their dimming,
And our work on earth is done,
May we hear as does our Sovereign,
“Faithful servant, welcome home.”
May we rise with Christ to witness
A new Heaven and Earth displayed…
Ours a robe that will not tarnish,
Hers a crown that will not fade. (Andy Flannagan, Sam Hargreaves)
Sam Orr. 17.09.2022