BOOK OF CONDOLENCE
A book of Condolence is available in Church. The church will be open during the coffee morning from 10.00am to 11.30am on Tuesday 13th for any-one wishing to make an entry, additionally votive candles will be available to light. The Condolence Book will also be available to view and share your own thoughts on Queen Elizabeth II after the Mission Area Joint Service on Thursday commencing 10.00am or Parish Mass on Sunday commencing 9.30am.
“To the eternal King, the undying and invisible God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Those words of St Paul in the first letter to Timothy, remind us that there is only one eternal kingdom.
As Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years, many, although not all of us will have known no other English monarch. Although I know that no one lives for ever, there was a part of me that somehow couldn’t imagine her no longer being the Queen. But here we are, and now her crown passes to her son, King Charles III.
I find it heartening that not everything will change. His speech following the death of his mother revealed a faith that both of them have shared. If she was a mainstay for our country, then it seems true to say that her Christian faith was a mainstay for her. It sounds very much as though King Charles, head of the Church of England, will look to the same eternal King for wisdom and strength.
One of the wonderful things about our late Queen is that despite her unusual life and despite living in palaces, she liked to keep something of an ordinary life. There were the breakfast cereals in Tupperware and the electric heater to keep her warm. There were the endless ordinary conversations with ordinary people. Perhaps being so close to the trappings of earthly wealth, she knew that there are things of greater value than money, status and possessions.
The book of Exodus speaks of a people who had lost touch with God and who looked for value in earthly things. One of the Ten Commandments was the commandment against idolatry. Although we associate idolatry with graven images, it is above all about putting greater value on worldly things than on God. Those people would learn the hard way that earthly riches will not support us through times of change and of loss. More than that, we cannot take any of it with us when we leave this world behind. God alone is the one whose love will never let us down. This love is everlasting.
From what Queen Elizabeth has said on numerous occasions, she drew her example of service from what she saw in Jesus. Of course, it could only reflect the complete outpouring of self that is shown to us in Jesus. She was reminded, as we are, that one of the greatest forms of idolatry is when we make ourselves the centre of our lives. Only when we make God the centre of our lives and give something of ourselves away to others do we discover the love that is eternal. Only then do we find a treasure that nothing else on earth can equal.
Our readings remind us too that the kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. None of us are measured according to the circumstances of our birth, our intellect or our achievements. We are of value because we are God’s children, and his love is unconditional for every one of us. This is a love that seeks out the lost. This love led the people of Israel away from idolatry and back to the one true God. It sought out St Paul, a persecutor or Christians and converted him to be an ardent follower of Christ. We find a portrayal of God’s love in the parables Jesus told of the lost sheep and the lost coin and also in the story of the prodigal son.
As we come to celebrate the Eucharist and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we are reminded that no matter who we are, Christ gives his life to every single one of us. Our late Queen shared in these sacraments. She would have been reminded that whether we live in a palace, or in a single room, or out on the streets, a treasure awaits every one of us who lives by the example of love and service that we see in Jesus. We are all invited to the banquet in the kingdom of heaven. I pray that Queen Elizabeth, who now goes to her rest, will rejoice in that eternal kingdom. May we too come to share those same riches so graciously given by the one eternal king.
I finish with the final verse of one of our late Queen’s favourite hymns, which gives an image of earthly kingship bowing before the King of Kings:
Finish, then, thy new creation;
true and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise.