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Queen Elizabeth the First was known as Good Queen Bess. She had avoided the scandals and disgrace of her father's marital affairs (Henry the Eighth), and had steered the country through the political threats and religious complications of her reign. Our own dear queen, Elizabeth the Second, deserves the same title, Good Queen Bess. She has negotiated the scandals and disgraces of her family's marital affairs, and steered a fine line through the rapid and profound social changes of our time.

She has been an extraordinary agent of reconciliation. She has kept her family together through many trials and tribulations. I can only believe that it was her last wish that both Charles and William, in those days after her death, should have reached out in reconciliation to Harry and Meghan. But perhaps her most extraordinary work of reconciliation, largely unnoticed at home, has been the growth and expansion of the Commonwealth. Coming out of the dissolution of the British Empire, with all its conflicts and struggles, the Commonwealth has brought together not only former Colonies and Dominions of the Empire, but now countries that were never even part of the Empire, united in a Commonwealth of Nations of shared values and aspirations: peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Good Queen Bess indeed.

Yet, as she is laid to rest on Monday, we do not commend her into the hands of Almighty God on the basis of what she has done, but simply on the basis of what Christ has done for her – and for us all.

In the last few years we have seen the intrusion into funeral services of too many eulogies and tributes. It is appropriate for the service to include thanksgiving for the life of the deceased and the blessings that he or she may have imparted to others, but this does not imply that any of us have earned our salvation by our own good works. Our salvation and our hope are found only in the sacrifice of Christ, reconciling us to God by his death on the Cross, and by his resurrection from the dead, opening for us the gate of everlasting life.

The root of all the world's troubles is the decision made by our first ancestors to turn away from God and live their lives their own way. At that point the human race lost the knowledge of God, and inherited the presumption that we were here to do as we pleased, for good or ill. It was God's initiative to reveal himself afresh, and to recall us to himself and to obedience to his will. Abraham was the first to hear and to respond to this call, in faith. This call was repeated to generations of Abraham's descendants, until the coming of Christ. In him God was revealed in all his fulness, embodied in the person of Jesus. The fundamental choice that Jesus calls us to make is this: "Repent and believe the Good News". That is the call to turn back to God, to live our lives as he intends, and to believe in the sacrifice of his Son Jesus as the propitiation for our sins.

The Queen believed in Jesus, as she often said in her Christmas broadcasts, and as she showed in the godly way in which she lived her life, fulfilled her destiny, and served her people. Did you ever hear her blowing her own trumpet? She lived for God's glory, not her own. I believe that she has gone to be with Jesus in Paradise, and that she has been welcomed into the everlasting arms of her heavenly Father. We can rejoice with her and for her in the infinite love and mercy of God that has made a way to reconcile us all to himself and to one another in life everlasting.

Long Live the Queen indeed.


A dream: a man dreamt that he had died, and woke up in a queue waiting to enter the pearly gates. The way in was through a turnstile operated by St Peter. As people drew near they were fumbling in their pockets for the money to pay the price of admission. The first person only had a small handful of coins to offer: the coins were the good deeds that he had done on earth. Peter sorrowfully shook his head and the man turned away in despair. The next person had a wad of bank-notes that he proudly presented, his prestige and success in the world. But Peter again shook his head, and the man turned away in despair. Then a woman came forward and said to Peter, "Jesus has paid for me," and Peter smiled, opened the gate and let her in. There, she was greeted by the Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant."


Next week I hope to return to the subject of Why Read This Blog, which was obviously overtaken by events.

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