What a week it’s been. On Tuesday a new Prime Minister was appointed, and then on Thursday we found out that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, had died. It’s a time of huge change for our nation.
The Queen was 96 years old so we can’t perhaps claim that we’re shocked or surprised by her death, but after a reign of 70 years I know many of us feel a deep sense of loss. For our country an era has ended; the second Elizabethan era. She’s the only monarch most of us have ever known. The nation is in mourning. Many tears have been shed. To quote the Queen herself when she spoke to the nation about the events of 9/11, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
One of my earliest life memories is of celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. I was 5 years old. We had a street party with a kids fancy dress competition and I went dressed up as Noddy. I didn’t win, but I did win the three legged race later on, which was some compensation. The celebrations that day were obviously very significant to me because I don’t really remember anything much else from being 5, but those memories are very clear. This season will also be significant to people and will remain in memories for years to come.
A committed Christian and a faithful servant
It’s been a real privilege to have lived my whole life so far in a country where our Queen was a committed Christian. Her faith inspired her to devoted service to her country too. Her Christmas messages regularly gave a clear declaration of her faith and of the gospel. There are many examples of this, but here are just two:
“To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example” (2000)
“God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” (2011)
Queen Elizabeth II will be missed and we should thank God for her example of Christian faith and service.
Changing Our Plans
In light of this sad news we’ve adjusted our plans for Welcome Church this weekend. A moment like this requires us to change our plans out of respect for her contribution to our nation and to pause and say thank you to God. So we will still be meeting at 9am and 11am as usual, with kids work and youth work, but the adult meeting and message will be a little different as we reflect on the moment we are in.
Let’s gather to worship and also to give thanks to God for the blessings we’ve had. Everyone is welcome to join us as we mark this occasion. Why not invite a friend to come along with you?
Our Discovering Baptism meeting is planned for 5pm on Sunday, and that will go ahead as planned – please do join us if you want to find out about more about being baptised.
Then at 7pm we had planned to hold our next Encounter worship evening. We are making a change to this and instead of Encounter we will hold a prayer meeting, from 7pm to 8pm, to pray for our nation and to pray for our new King and our new Prime Minister. Please do join us.
And finally, in advance of next weekend, the Welcome Church Fun Day on Saturday 17th September will go ahead as planned. Let’s all be on the front foot to invite guests for this excellent event.