On the Death of Queen Elizabeth II
By The Rev. Canon Dr. Christopher Brown, Canon to the Ordinary
Each year, after concluding our church’s quiet Christmas morning Eucharist (the evening services having attracted the seasonal crowd), my family and I would visit the home of a parishioner who grew up in England. We would have tea and scones, and we would watch the Queen deliver her annual Christmas message on Canadian television. (We lived half an hour from the St Lawrence River.)
Each message was a gem. With the inevitable Christmas tree in the background, Queen Elizabeth was beautifully attired, but not overly formal. She spoke beautifully in her calm, crisp, perfect English, with a twinkle in her eye - her words carefully chosen, but without being stilted or effete. She would mention her family and events of the past year. She would speak of the many nations and cultures embraced by the British Commonwealth and increasingly represented in the population of Britain. She conveyed a remarkable - almost pastoral - awareness of her vocation as embodying in herself the identity and welfare of a nation, and of her service to the United Kingdom, and the world community.
And she spoke of the birth of the infant Messiah. She would graciously acknowledge the religious diversity of her nation, while, with complete sincerity, she explicitly confessed her faith in Jesus Christ.
We, in the Diocese of Dallas, are citizens of the United States of America. Our national identity is shaped by our rejection of monarchy in general, and the British Monarchy in particular. Even as Episcopalians, with ties to the English Church, we do not recognize the Queen as head of the church, nor regularly offer prayers for her in our liturgy.
And yet, how can we not mourn the passing of Elizabeth II as one of our own? How can we not acknowledge the integrity and greatness of this woman who devoted her life to the people of Britain, who embraced the role of a world citizen, and who lived her life, as Deitrich Bonhoeffer put it, “for others” - and who did not hesitate to confess that she drew her guidance and direction from her faith in Jesus Christ.
We join our brothers and sisters in the Church of England in their prayer:
Gracious God, we give thanks for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth, for her faith and her dedication to duty. Bless the nation of Britain and all in the world community who mourn her death and may her example continue to inspire us; through Christ our Lord. Amen. (www.churchofengland.org - adapted)
Rest eternal grant to your servant, Elizabeth, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon her.
May her soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.