Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Start:Stop - Her Majesty's Life of Faith

The People's Monarch - Helen Marshall, Gatwick Airport/BBC South East, 2012

Hello and welcome to St Stephen Walbrook and our Start:Stop reflection, when we start the day by stopping for ten minutes in prayer and reflection. Please come and go as your schedule dictates. You can listen to an audio recording of this week's reflection at this link.

The world is mourning the death of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; monarch, Supreme Governor of The Church of England and perhaps one of, if not the most prominent advocate for the Christian faith in recent times. 

I confess I have found it impossible to put into words the loss of someone known to 94% of the population of the globe - the single most visually recorded human being in history.  

So, rather than my words, this morning’s reflection, which follows uses her own. Words of wisdom drawn from just some of the public statements and Christmas Broadcasts (CB) she gave over her long reign. Please do take a sheet away with you to reflect on these words further.

 

 

Reflection  

 

I have lived long enough to know that things never remain quite the same for very long. (CB 2006)

Life….consists of final partings as well as first meetings (CB 2021). Nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love (9/11 Statement 2001).

Joy and sadness are part of all our lives. Indeed, the poet William Blake tells us that:

 

"Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine."

But out of… disaster [comes] opportunities for….. people to display their….faith in the future. Being united - that is, feeling a unity of purpose - is the glue that bonds [us] together... Without it, the parts are only fragments of a whole; with it, we can be much more than the sum of those fragments. (CB 1997). 

As so often in our lives at times of tragedy - just as on occasions of celebration and thanksgiving - we look to the Church to bring us together as a nation or as a community in commemoration and tribute.

It is to the Church that we turn to give meaning to these moments of intense human experience through prayer, symbol and ceremony.

In these circumstances so many of us, whatever our religion, need our faith more than ever to sustain and guide us. Every one of us needs to believe in the value of all that is good and honest; we need to let this belief drive and influence our actions. (CB 2001) 

Over the years, those who have seemed to me to be the most happy, contented and fulfilled have always been the people who have lived the most outgoing and unselfish lives; the kind of people who are generous with their talents or their time. (CB 2008)

Their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Saint Teresa of Calcutta [who] once said, “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.” (CB 2016) 

The true measure of Christ's influence is not only in the lives of the saints but also in the good works quietly done by millions of men and women day in and day out throughout the centuries. (CB 2000) 


Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far.  He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong.  And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives.  I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe. (CB 2016)

His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose. (CB 2000) 

As I look to the future I have no doubt… that the one certainty is change - and the pace of that change will only seem to increase….But I do not think that we should be over-anxious. We can make sense of the future - if we …draw from our…constant and unchanging values which have stood the test of time…. Fairness and compassion, justice and tolerance; these are the landmarks from the past which can guide us through the years ahead.

At the centre of our lives - today and tomorrow - must be the message of caring for others, the message at the heart of Christianity and of all the great religions. (CB 1999) 

I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. (CB 2002).

The words of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. 

 

 

Meditation   

In her 2013 Christmas broadcast, she said: ‘For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people.’ (CB 2013) 

Let us act on her guidance and spend a few moments in silence before we pray.  


Prayers 

Twenty years ago, in her 2003 Christmas Broadcast, Her Late Majesty said ‘I hope we all….can draw inspiration from the words of [this] familiar prayer:

Teach us good Lord
To serve thee as thou deservest;
To give, and not to count the cost;
To fight, and not to heed the wounds;
To toil, and not to seek for rest;
To labour, and not to ask for any reward;
Save that of knowing that we do thy will.’ (CB 2003).


A Litany of Thanksgiving
 

 

As we mourn the death of Elizabeth our Queen, let us give thanks to God in faith and trust. 

 

The response to ‘Let us bless the Lord’ is ‘Thanks be to God’.

 

For the gift of Christ Jesus and for all whose devotion to him has sustained the life of our Church and nation:

 

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

For Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and all the Royal Family; for the ministers of the Crown and all who bear the privilege and burden of government:

 

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

For all people touched by Queen Elizabeth’s devotion to public service:

 

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

For our own lives, giving thanks for all those who have gone before, and asking that we might go forward with confidence and hope:

 

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

O God,

in whom we live and move and have our being,

grant that your goodness and mercy shall follow us

all the days of our lives,

that we may ever trust in your unfailing love;

through Jesus Christ our Saviour.  

Amen.

 

 

Blessing

 

We bring this reflection to a close with the words of blessing Her Late Majesty chose to conclude her Christmas Broadcast in the year 2000, which, she explained, summarises the whole Christian message’ and, if I may be so bold to say, her own life;

 

‘Go forth into the world in peace,
be of good courage,
hold fast that which is good,
render to no man evil for evil,
strengthen the faint-hearted,
support the weak,
help the afflicted,
honour all men.’ (CB 2000) 

 

Amen. 

 

 

Thank you for joining us for this Start:Stop reflection. The church remains open for prayer and reflection during the period of national mourning. A service of Thanksgiving for the life of Her Late Majesty will be held here on Thursday lunchtime at 12.45pm with beautiful music from our choir. Please read or write your own message in the book of condolence and light a candle and stay to pray and reflect for as long as you wish. This reflection will be repeated again on the quarter hour. 

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