Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service

The State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth's funeral service, Westminster AbbeyExtracts from the Order of Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday 19 September 2022. The service paid tribute to the Queen’s “remarkable reign and lifetime of service”.

The sentences

Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (Jn. 11:25-26NIV, see Appendix A).

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

“We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim. 6:7).

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

The Choirs sang:

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayers;
but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty,
O holy and most merciful Savior, thou most worthy Judge eternal.
Suffer us not at our last hour for any pains of death to fall away from thee. (Book of Common Prayer 1662)

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor. Amen. (Rev. 14:13)

The bidding

In grief and also in profound thanksgiving we come to this House of God, to a place of prayer, to a church where remembrance and hope are sacred duties. Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth, and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service, and in sure confidence to commit her to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer.

With gratitude we remember her unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. With admiration we recall her life-long sense of duty and dedication to her people. With thanksgiving we praise God for her constant example of Christian faith and devotion. With affection we recall her love for her family and her commitment to the causes she held dear.

Now, in silence, let us in our hearts and minds recall our many reasons for thanksgiving, pray for all members of her family, and commend Queen Elizabeth to the care and keeping of almighty God.

O merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life; in whom whosoever believeth shall live, though he die; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in Him, shall not die eternally; who hast taught us, by His holy Apostle Saint Paul, not to be sorry, as men without hope, for them that sleep in him: We meekly beseech thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; that, when we shall depart this life, we may rest in Him, as our hope is this our sister doth; and that, at the general Resurrection in the last day, we may be found acceptable in thy sight; and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all that love and fear thee, saying, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. Grant this, we beseech thee, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our mediator and redeemer. Amen.

Hymn: “St Clement”

The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended, the darkness falls at thy behest; to thee our morning hymns ascended, thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping, while earth rolls onward into light, through all the world her watch is keeping, and rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking our brethren ‘neath the western sky, and hour by hour fresh lips are making thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never, like earth’s proud empires, pass away; thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever, till all thy creatures own thy sway.

The first lesson:

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:20-26, 53-58)

Hymn: Psalm 42:1-5

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

The second lesson:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the father. (Jn. 14:1-9a)

Hymn: ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ (Ps. 23)

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnished me
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore,
My dwelling place shall be.

Queen Elizabeth's funeral service, Westminster AbbeySermon

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 53-58
Psalm 42:1-7
John 14:1-6

Come Holy Spirit, fill us with the balm of your healing love. Amen.

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.” (Mt. 20:28)

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 O Little Town of Bethlehem says “where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in.”

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.”

Choir: the Anthem

My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skillful in the wars:

There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles
And One, born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious friend
And, O my soul, awake!
Did in pure love descend
To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow’r of Peace,
The Rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress and thy ease.

Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure
But One who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

Prayers

In confidence and trust, let us pray to the Father.

Let us give thanks to God for Queen Elizabeth’s long life and reign, recalling with gratitude her gifts of wisdom, diligence, and service. O God, from whom cometh everything that is upright and true: accept our thanks for the gifts of heart and mind that thou didst bestow upon thy daughter Elizabeth, and which she showed forth among us in her words and deeds; and grant that we may have grace to live our lives in accordance with thy will, to seek the good of others, and to remain faithful servants unto our lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confident in God’s love and compassion, let us pray for all those whose hearts are heavy with grief and sorrow. Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: deal graciously, we pray thee, with those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray for his Majesty the King and all the Royal Family; that they may know the sustaining power of God’s love and the prayerful fellowship of God’s people. Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless our most gracious sovereign lord King Charles, Camilla the Queen Consort, William Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family: endue them with thy Holy Spirit, enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In recognition of Queen Elizabeth’s service to this United Kingdom, let us rejoice in her unstinting devotion to duty, her compassion for her subjects, and her counsel to her ministers; and we pray for the continued health and prosperity of this nation. O almighty God, whose will it is that all thy children should serve thee in serving one another: look with love, we pray thee, on this Nation. Grant to its citizens grace to work together with honest and faithful hearts, each caring for the good of all; that, seeking first thy kingdom and its righteousness, they may possess all things needful for their daily sustenance and the common good; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us give thanks for Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to the Commonwealth throughout her reign, for her service and dedication to its peoples, and for the rich bonds of unity and mutual support she sustained. Almighty and everlasting God, hear our prayer for the Commonwealth, and grant it the guidance of thy wisdom. Inspire those in authority, that they may promote justice and the common good; give to all its citizens the spirit of mutual honor and respect; and grant to us all grace to strive for the establishment of righteousness and peace; for the honor of thy name. Amen.

We give thanks to God for Queen Elizabeth’s loyalty to the faith she inherited through her baptism and confirmation, and affirmed at her coronation; for her unswerving devotion to the Gospel; and for her steadfast service as Supreme Governor of the Church of England (See comment). Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection she may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in all good works, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray that we may be given grace to live as those who believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to eternal life. Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitation of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen. (John Donne, 1572-1631)

Choir sang: ‘O Taste and see how gracious the Lord is’

O taste and see how gracious the Lord is: blest is the man that trusteth in Him.
O taste and see how gracious the Lord is: blest is the man that trusteth in Him.
Blest is the man that trusteth in Him.
Blest is the man that trusteth in Him.
The man that trusteth in Him.

Prayer

In confidence and hope, let us pray to the Father in the words our Savior taught us, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Queen Elizabeth's funeral service, Westminster AbbeyHymn: Blaenwern

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art.
Visit us with thy salvation;
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast.
Let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be.
End of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty, to deliver,
let us all thy life receive.
Suddenly return, and never,
nevermore they temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

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 Commendation

Let us commend to the mercy of God, our maker and redeemer, the soul of Elizabeth, our late Queen. Heavenly Father, King of kings, Lord and giver of life, who of thy grace in creation didst form mankind in thine own image, and in thy great love offerest us life eternal in Christ Jesus; claiming the promises of thy most blessed Son, we entrust the soul of Elizabeth, our sister here departed, to thy merciful keeping, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, when Christ shall be all in all; who died and rose again to save us, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, in glory for ever. Amen.

Go forth, O Christian soul, from this world, in the name of God the Father almighty, who created thee; in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for thee; in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon thee and anointed thee. In communion with all the blessed saints, and aided by the angels and archangels and all the armies of the heavenly host, may thy portion this day be in peace, and thy dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen.

Choir sang: Romans 8:35a, 38b-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Alleluia! Amen.

The Blessing:

God grant to the living grace; to the departed rest; to the Church, The King, the Commonwealth, and all people, peace and concord, and to us sinners, life everlasting; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

The Last Post was sounded

Two-minute silence

The Reveille was sounded

National Anthem: God Save The King

God save our gracious King!
Long live our noble King!
God save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.

Thy choicest gifts in store
On him be pleased to pour,
Long may he reign.
May he defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the King.

Appendix A: Quotes from the Bible

For clarity, quotes from the Bible have been updated from the KJV to the NIV.

Appendix B: Main points

Thanks to God for Queen Elizabeth’s long life and reign. She had faith and hope in Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving and praise to God for her example of Christian faith and devotion.

Those who trust that Jesus took the penalty that they deserve will be resurrected back to life. Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all believers, abundant life now and life with God in eternity. Jesus promised to return to take all true believers to be with Himself. So, for believers, death is the door to glory.

Do you share the Queen’s trust and faith in God and her hope that we will meet again?

Posted, September 2022

Also see: Was Queen Elizabeth II a true Christian?

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