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I wonder how you have been remembering her in these last few days.

What images of her monarchy spring most readily to mind.

For there are many grand occasions to look back upon.

She, making her way along the mall in a royal coach.

Seeing her, crowned and be jewelled in a dazzling procession.

Presiding over the state opening of parliament or receiving an important overseas visitor on the steps of Buckingham Palace

Or maybe there are the times when we had glimpses that she was really just like us.

Cheering on a winner at the races at Ascot.

Laughing with the grandchildren.

Walking over the Scottish Highlands with the dogs

They say she kept her biscuits in a Tupperware box and was kept warm by a single bar of an electric fire.

For there was in our Queen, a refusal to be just grand.

I remember her presenting Bobby Moore with the World Cup in 1966 and as our footballing hero went up to collect the trophy he was wiping his muddy hands on the cloth at the front of the royal box, lest he dirty her pure white gloves when he shook her hand. Whilst she apparently had not considered that at all.

A footballer’s grimy mitts held in the Queen’s white gloves.

Her pledge as a young woman not to laud it over us with pomp and circumstance but to be our servant – somewhere in the outworking of that – we glimpse the greatness that has caused her to be such an inspiration.

Brother, Sister, let me serve you. Let me be as Christ to you. I’ll wager that hymn won’t be sung at the funeral, but how wonderful if it was.

For our Queen’s desire to serve does not appear to have been imposed on her as a duty – but rather it came from the heart of her faith. The monarchy was always intended to be a holy institution and the sovereign’s anointing at her coronation, done in private all those years ago, marks out a Christian vocation as strong as that of any Bishop or Priest.

A refusal to be just grand. But rather a servant – a humble servant at that – and vulnerable too – for there were times of struggle along the way, for the media to make the most of, and just as with us – she didn’t always know how to best react.

In the church we believe that by the Holy Spirit – God is all around us, not stuck up in heaven. But comes to our hearts in Jesus.

We have these things called sacraments – special moments of inbreaking of the heavenly upon the earthly. From your confirmation classes, you may remember - outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace.

The pouring of water upon the forehead of a child at Baptism.

Hands outstretched at the Eucharist to receive a sliver of consecrated bread.

Vows exchanged as rings are blessed and slipped onto the hands of bride and groom.

Hands laid upon heads at Confirmation and Ordination.

Little fragments of life – small crumbs of creation – which speak of the God of everything.

The coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the thrones of heaven to the stables at Bethlehem – the incarnation – and God’s refusal not to be just grand but also to mix it with the grubby.

But to come amongst us as a servant, a humble servant at that – and vulnerable too –

So it is that Queen Elizabeth ll was something of a walking sacrament for us – a sign of what life might look like if you are thrust into greatness – yet are sustained by a faith that is greater than the office you hold.

Jesus comes offering to be the bread of life for us. When we need strength and courage. When we are hurt and fearful, he offers to nourish us – not just with the crust of a loaf – but with his very self – not just to touch us and then withdraw but to raise us up and then hold us – with the light touch that is befitting of the tenderest love.

I am the bread of life says Jesus – He was her bread.

I am the light of the world – He says again – he was her light

I am the way, the truth and the life – he cried – He was this for her.

If Jesus was a vine – she was a branch. If he was a shepherd – she knew in the end she was one of the flock.

I wonder if I am making too much of her for your liking? – Making our dearly loved monarch into almost a God.

But no, for everything I have said about her life of faith and service applies to us as well.

We fall away from this course when we opt for a way of thinking that is to just be grand. To be well thought of. To be noticed, respected, admired, feted. Never to be grubby and to be successful not because of any Godward vocation at all, but for self grandisement.

Our Queen was placed above us, ruled over us, was sung about and prayed for daily, caught up in protocol and was just plain special amongst us – and yet she appears never to have lost that humility – that servanthood, that vulnerability that is what it is to be truly human.

I’m back to Bobby Moore climbing up to the royal box to receive the World Cup and worried about placing his grubby hands into the sovereign’s pure white gloves – and I’m thinking that’s a reality for us every day of our lives – daring to come as we are into the presence of God but not sure about the touching place. Being offered the bread of life and not sure that we can take it, being offered the light of the world and not feeling worthy to hold it. Being a branch to a vine but worried lest we fail to cling on.

But beneath Queen Elizabeth’s pure white gloves – were hands no different to that of the England Captain and no different from ours either – and we all need, whether grand or grubby, to be daily to be raised up by the hands of Christ – who bore more scars upon his palms than the rest of us put together.


Eternal God our Heavenly father we bless your holy name for all that you have given us in and through the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth.

We give you thanks for her love of family and the gift of friendship .

For her devotion to this nation and all the nations of the commonwealth

For her grace, dignity and courtesy and for her generosity and love of life.

We praise you for the courage that she showed in testing times , the depth of her Christian faith, and the witness she bore to it in word and deed.

We pray for our sovereign Lord the King Charles lll and all the royal family , that you would reassure them of your continuing love and lift them from the depths of grief into the peace and light of your presence.

Lord in your mercy…

Fr Andrew

11 September 2022


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