Dear Ascension Family,
Today is a day that we always knew would come, and yet never wanted to see.
While the news of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, does not come as a great surprise given her advanced age and recent illnesses, it is nonetheless an occasion of great sadness, not just for the people of Great Britain, but for people throughout the world. We are not simply witnessing the death of a great and remarkable woman; we are witnessing the end of an era.
Although most of us are citizens of the United States of America, and we are members of the Episcopal Church, our shared tradition and history as Anglicans, means that we have a familial relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Church of England, of which Queen Elizabeth II was the Supreme Governor. It needs to be said that in addition to being an extremely influential head of state in world affairs, Her Majesty was a serious and committed Christian who lived her faith openly in front of the world. Her annual Christmas speech has consistently been a powerful witness to her faith in Jesus Christ. Her stability and sense of duty, in both civil and religious affairs, in good times and in bad times, have been an inspiration for so many. I can only pray that for those of us who may be wondering, “where do we go from here?” that her life may serve as an instructive example.
The British system of democracy is different than the American system. Prime Ministers may come and go, but the Monarch remains a constant throughout his or her life. It is a system that values stability in the midst of change. I have always found that to be very comforting, because in a world that is constantly changing we all need stabilizing forces in our lives. Queen Elizabeth was certainly that. I also think that there is something to be said for having a head of state that is not a political figure, but one instead that seeks to be a symbol of national unity. Queen Elizabeth was that too. I suspect that although Her Majesty’s earthly service may have ended, her life will be teaching us lessons in leadership for many years to come.
Our prayers at this time are offered, first and foremost for the soul of Queen Elizabeth, that the Lord will welcome his servant into his heavenly kingdom; secondly, for her son Charles, who now ascends the throne as King; for the Queen’s family, during this time of great personal loss; for the people of Great Britain and of all the Commonwealth Nations; for Anglicans throughout the world; and finally, for all those who mourn the passing of a great woman who touched the lives of so many.
A memorial service to mourn for and celebrate the life of Her Majesty will be scheduled at Ascension in the near future at a date and time to be announced.
Our parish was founded during the reign of Queen Elizabeth’s great, great grandmother Queen Victoria. Her 63 year and seven month reign was the longest of any British monarch, until it was surpassed by Queen Elizabeth in 2015. Even the greatest kings and queens of this world come and go though, and now Elizabeth, who has lived a life of service to others may rest in peace and receive her reward. What gave Elizabeth strength in this life, was knowing that no matter what throne she sat on or what crown she wore, she always served a greater King.
May that King, the King of Peace and the King of Glory, comfort us all now.
Fr. Kevin Morris