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‘We remember her not for what she had, but for what she gave’

12 September 2022

Archbishops’ sermons pay tribute to the late Queen


The Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday

The Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday

THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York used their Sunday sermons to remember the faith and faithfulness of the late Queen.

Archbishop Welby told the congregation of Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday morning that, in her, “God graciously gave us the most wonderful example of a Christian life and a Christian death.

“Her Late Majesty taught as much, if not more, about God and grace, both in words and the actions that reinforced them, than any other contemporary figure. We remember her not for what she had, but for what she gave.

“What a precious blessing. How precious she was therefore to us, and how keenly we feel her loss.”

The lectionary reading from Luke 15 was about loss: the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. “Shepherds were notoriously unreliable in the days of Jesus,” Archbishop Welby said. “They were liable to drink, they trampled over crops, they were always armed and often violent, and as a result they were the butt of many jokes.” In the Gospels, “the punchline transforms the story, for the presumed butt of the jokes — the women, the shepherds — turns out to be the model of God who reaches the lost.

“Because nothing is lost to God.”

It was a time of uncertainty and fear for the nation, he said, because of “the passing of someone who felt like a near eternal point of stability. That fear relies for its strength on leaving God out of our thinking.”

With God, there was hope for everyone, he said. “Whoever you are, however lost you may be, whatever you think of yourself — positive or negative — or fear for someone you love, however final death may seem, there is hope. . . The hope that is certain expectation of the future, the hope of God who knows you, loves you, finds you, and rejoices in you. And Her Late Majesty knew that, His Majesty trusts that, and from that trust and knowledge comes the capacity to serve, to commit life to others, however long or short it may be.”

Remembering the Lambeth Conference earlier this summer, Archbishop Welby said that the bishops of the Anglican Communion had been united in their “common respect and admiration” for the late Queen. “The 1470 people sitting in a marquee at lunch in the garden of Lambeth Palace showed rapt attention as her message to them was read.”

Her faith, and that of her son King Charles III, were built on the same rock of Christ, Archbishop Welby said. Everyone was welcome on that rock. The late Queen had known this — that everyone she met was treasured by God and that he was there through the “darkest days and greatest victories” of the country.

“His Majesty knows the same. We have continuity, we have stability through grace.” Archbishop Welby concluded: “All that is lost will be found again, as surely as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and defeated death. . . We will meet again.”

Archbishop Cottrell, preaching in York Minster on Sunday, said that the nation grieved because the late Queen had been a member of its family. “It comes to us that we are the household of a nation and that we do belong to each other. And part of our grieving is to tell our stories and share our thoughts when someone we have dearly loved dies.”

Also admiring the faith of the late Queen, Archbishop Cottrell said of her coronation: “She steadfastly walked past the throne upon which she would sit, and knelt at the altar, giving her allegiance to God before anyone else gave their allegiance to her.”

Sunday also marked 21 years since the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York: “a day etched into the corporate memory of the world as we remember another day of horror and sadness when so many died”, he said.

“And this is what we do. As we remember, as we grieve and mourn in our families, across our world, and in the household of our nation, we tell our stories. And how do we make sense of the end of life and of death?. . . We can do no better than follow the example of Her Late Majesty the Queen, who each day put her trust in God.”

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