This week's blog is a little different. Some of you may wonder why we, a Christian Home Church ministry, are writing a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever your opinions on Monarchy today, Queen Elizabeth II was an example to billions of people around the world. She was revered and respected by world leaders for 7 decades! Her faithfulness to her role and her servant's attitude was beyond doubt. So we wanted to pay our final respects to someone who, we think, was a great witness and testimony of God's love and influence and a life well lived.
Here is a letter from Pastor Richard and Donna Harris:
Dear Upstream leaders in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth:
Everyone knew this day would come soon, but that does not make it any easier. We in the United States mourn with you upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
She was a rare person indeed, born for such a time as this. It is difficult to imagine anyone else who could have led with such grace, wisdom and stability over the last 70+ years. She really was a gift from God to your nations and to the world. Her faithfulness, devotion and endurance are an example to people the world over.
As I told Adam Stone earlier today, I know that you lived her in a way that was real and somehow personal.
Please accept our sincere sympathies and know that we are praying for your nations today and for King Charles.
Grace and peace to all of you and your families,
Richard and Donna Harris
And this came from our Worship Leader, Adam Stone:
As a thick fog hung over the valleys this morning, I sat at the breakfast table with our family and read our daily (kids) Bible reading. Today's passage, was entitled 'The Resurrection and the Life'. The following chapter was entitled, 'The Entry of a King'. It felt almost overwhelming that the Lord has engineered that 'coincidence' just for us!
And now, as I listen to the news (which I rarely do!), they are interviewing the Archbishop of York who has been given the opportunity to preach the gospel on national news. Even in her passing, the Queen has inspired the message of Jesus Christ to be spoken over the airways. But more than words, she lived a life of service and selflessness that is an example of faithfulness and devotion that we rarely see. Her Christmas messages were a source of great joy in our country and around the world. My dad and I always shed a tear whenever she mentioned Jesus, which she did every year.
One of my favourite quotes from Queen Elizabeth II is this: "Throughout my life, the message and teachings of Jesus Christ, have been my guide and in them I find hope."
The following passage is from the Archbishop of Canterbury and I think it sums things up very well:
"The Queen was not shy in speaking of her faith and the hope and strength she found in Jesus Christ. At the heart of the good news of God is that through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus, the promise of new and eternal life is offered to us all. This belief, this hope, sustained our Queen and as she rejoices in that promise fulfilled so we too can draw comfort and hope from it."
The Queen knew where even she had to bend the knee. And we, as believers in Jesus Christ, can look forward to meeting the Queen when we too go to be with The King of Kings, the True Majesty from whom the Queen has always drawn great strength for all her life.
There is so much I could say. The Queen has always 'been there', as she was for my parents generation also. My heart aches, but my hope is a strong anchor. The Queen wrote to me twice in reply to letters I had written to her informing her that we were praying for her. The Queen wrote that our prayers were a source of great comfort and support to her. She truly cherished our Lord Jesus and continues to be a great example of what faith in Jesus can do for everyone.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
Cathrin and I will be praying for King Charles III, mostly that he finds the same trust and truth in Jesus Christ that his mother exemplified. I ask you all to please do the same.
Thank you, ma'am. You will be missed, but you certainly earned a rest! I know you will have heard the words; Well done, my good and faithful servant. I look forward to tea and a marmalade sandwich with you and Jesus!
I close with these wonderfully hopeful words from the Archbishop of Cantebury:
Rest in peace and rise in glory!
Yesterday was the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. It was, quite simply, the biggest event in living memory. The heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, came flocking from all over the world to pay their respects at the funeral service. Each item in the service was chosen by the Queen and it was her last and possibly most powerful testimony of her faith in Jesus. Each hymn and reading resounded with truth and the gospel. The words to that famous hymn; Love Divine, say it all:
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.
The fact that the Queen chose those words, shows you exactly where she put her faith. The Queen knew that she was a custodian of the crown and that she would throw it at Jesus' feet one day. What a beautiful picture of humility. How many world leaders can say the same?
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a short but incredibly powerful and timely message. He was speaking to a church packed with world leaders from the more 'lowly' states of the commonwealth to the President of the United States of America. And he said this:
"People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten."
Wow! He sure put them in their place! The whole message is below for anyone who'd care to read it. It's powerful!
Our prayer at Upstream Ministries, is that millions of people who tuned in to watch the Queen's State Funeral will have been impacted greatly by those words, the words of the hymns and the scriptures especially. We pray that the seeds sown during this time of national and international mourning will produce a great harvest of faith in Jesus Christ. Even the BBC, who lately have been very poor in reporting news with a clear agenda of anti-christianly, couldn't help but bear witness to the Queen's great faith and loyalty to Jesus. What a powerful witness Elizabeth II was and remains to be through books and documentaries.
Our next teaching series from Pastor Richard is on Prosperity! Why should we prosper as believers in Jesus Christ? One thing that stands out to me straight away is influence. How many people bound in poverty can have influence? You don't find many homeless people building hospitals or schools. The Queen was not poor. And she had huge influence. She used the resources that were at her disposal to have a great influence on more than 2 billion people who fell under her leadership within the UK and the Commonwealth of Nations. And what did she do with it? She brought the message of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the example of duty, hard work, compassion and forgiveness. May we all be so faithful.
Queen Elizabeth II has gone to be with Jesus. Her influence will continue, I'm sure. But let us pray that King Charles III, that he use his influence for the same purposes and not be distracted by others who would use him for their own agenda. And let us run with patience the race that is set before us, until we too rest in peace and rise in glory. We will meet again!
Here is the full message from the Archbishop of Canterbury...
The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory.
Her Late Majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the Nation and Commonwealth.
Rarely has such a promise been so well kept! Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.
Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow – said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed. I know His Majesty shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother; the same sense of service and duty.
In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 1
People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.
The grief of this day – felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, Commonwealth and the world – arises from her abundant life and loving service, now gone from us.
She was joyful, present to so many, touching a multitude of lives.
We pray especially for all her family, grieving as every family at a funeral - including so many families round the world who have themselves lost someone recently - but in this family’s case doing so in the brightest spotlight.
May God heal their sorrow, may the gap left in their lives be marked with memories of joy and life.
Her Late Majesty’s broadcast during Covid lockdown ended with: “We will meet again”, words of hope from a song of Vera Lynn. Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen.
Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all, abundant life now and life with God in eternity.
As the Christmas carol says “where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.” 2
We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership.
Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: “We will meet again.”