The Queen’s Funeral and the Passing of an Era

A few thoughts on Queen Elizabeth’s funeral:

Over the past few hours I have been watching the Queen’s funeral, as have so many millions of others all over the globe. A little while ago I posted words like this on the social media: ‘This may be the last time a large portion of the world’s population tunes in to a service where great old hymns are sung and vital passages of Scripture are read out, along with moving prayers in a beautiful cathedral. For the West at least this may mark the end of an age.’

All the pomp and ceremony, the stirring music, the colourful uniforms, and precision marching, the solemnity – it was all done in accord with the Queen’s wishes. And the massive crowds in London, along with an estimated television audience of some four billion people, made this among the most significant public events of this century.

As to the actual funeral service, the sacred nature of it has impressed many, including myself. The hymns heard were: The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended; The Lord’s My Shepherd; and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. We heard various portions of Scripture during the service.

We heard the new Prime Minister Liz Truss recite the words from John 14: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” And we heard the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby say these words:

The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory. Her Late Majesty famously declared in a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the Nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept! Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen. Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who – said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed. I know His Majesty shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother; the same sense of service and duty. In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

We may never again see anything quite like it. Certainly not the unashamed Christian elements. What modern ruler would have so many people come out to view his funeral? What leader would have so many gospel elements present? Who could elicit such a response as the Queen did? There was not just royal pageantry on display but a very real element of the sacred here.

Yes, the Queen was simply a human being like you and I, but she took seriously her role of serving the people. She did so without arrogance or condescension. And often the words of Christ were heard in her Christmas messages and other addresses. One would get none of this from a Biden or a Trudeau or a Macron or an Ardern. But they are few and far between.

So things may have shifted big time in the West, with one era passing as another takes its place. The secularisation process has taken its toll, at least among our leaders and elites. Few come to mind today who will ever be anywhere near as outspoken about matters of faith – at least the Christian faith.

The new King has long told us how much he admires Islam, and how he wants to be known as a ‘defender of faith’ and not the ‘defender of the faith’. England will certainly be quite different. But most of the rest of the West is in the same boat. Sure, we can find a few leaders who are still up front about their faith, such as Ted Cruz in America or former leaders in Australia such as John Anderson or Tony Abbott.

So this may well spell the end of Christendom as we know it. Yes, it has been on wobbly legs for quite some time now. In the West a new, dark, secular era seems to be upon us. Everywhere we see the retreat of the Christian faith and the rise of secular humanism, along with forces quite hostile to Christianity.

Thankfully the church is strong and growing elsewhere: Africa, Asia, Latin America. God never leaves himself without a witness. But is the West now at the end of such a long period of the Christian faith, at least in the public, and amongst our ruling elites? It is certainly looking that way.

One might ask why a Yank such as myself is even writing this way. Sure, I was never a Royal watcher. But marrying an Australian and living in a Commonwealth country for over three decades has changed this somewhat. And as a student of church history one cannot overlook how Christianity came to England and developed there.

Indeed, during the past few years I have been reading quite a lot on things like the English Reformation, the Puritans, the Pilgrims, and so on. So much amazing history. So many great Christians. But now it seems like this chapter might be coming to an end, not just in the UK but all over the Western world.

That is why this funeral seems like such a crucial event – a hinge of history. The end of the old and the beginning of what many of us fear to see. Yes, knowing that God is on the throne and has no plans of getting off it is certainly reassuring.

But just as so many millions of Brits really do miss their beloved Queen, many of us can miss what she represented. The future looks rather bleak. The way ahead seems uncertain. But as we heard at the funeral, the Christian has hope. The resurrection of Jesus proves that and provides that.

Whether Europe and the West will again experience resurrection power in a major way is a moot point. But all those who love Christ and eagerly await his coming certainly do have that hope. And that is enough. God bless you QEII.

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22 Replies to “The Queen’s Funeral and the Passing of an Era”

  1. Thank you Bill for your valuable and thoughtful reflections. As a pastor watching here in England I was pleasantly surprised at the absence of pc virtue signalling and the centrality of Scripture. To end with a Charles Wesley hymn was for me a particular blessing, reminding us that Britain’s only hope is a mighty turning back to Christ, such as Wesley was once involved in, through the fearless public preaching of gospel truth.

  2. Bill,
    Thanks for the very positive description of the Queen’s funeral – my family watched the whole thing, including the smaller-scale committal at Windsor. We were very favourably impressed by the Archbishop’s words.
    But as a Brit, I honestly believe you have got King Charles wrong. Yes, he has spoken previously about being “Defender of faith”, but he has been proclaimed as “Defender of the faith”. Yes, he will be different from his mother, but I believe he too is a convinced Christian and will not hide the fact.
    I get the impression that some people are taking too seriously some odd things he has said at times, and ignoring his solidly Christian parents and grandparents and the great influence they had on him.
    But of course we need to pray for him, as is done regularly in the services of the Church of England.

  3. Thanks Peter. I, and millions of other concerned Christians hope we are wrong as well in our very real worries about the new king – including his keen support for things like the Great Reset. Time will tell of course. And as both Scripture and church history abundantly inform us, simply having godly parents and grandparents is no guarantee whatsoever of how a person will turn out. But yes we sure need to pray for him.

  4. I was impressed by the reading of the first lesson – 1 Corinthians 15 – Lady Scotland’s emphasis on “all” – “when he shall have put down *all* rule and *all* authority and power” – this a few feet away from the King.

  5. Bill, may I congratulate on have written such a moving and fitting commentary on the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
    What a welcome change it was to see so many people, not only of the United Kingdom but also of other Commonwealth countries, fall silent before the sacred and solemn ceremony we’ve just witnessed.
    You quoted above from a recent observation you made on the social media: “This may be the last time a large portion of the world’s population tunes in to a service where great old hymns are sung and vital passages of Scripture are read out, along with moving prayers in a beautiful cathedral. For the West at least this may mark the end of an age.”
    This sad outcome that you envisage for the West is all too possible, I fear.
    I hope and pray, however, that the British people — along with the millions of others around the world who watched the funeral on television — will realise what they have been missing for so long by staying away from church.
    May those magnificent old hymns and Scripture readings we heard at the funeral, along with the recital of the Lord’s Prayer (which every Christian once knew by heart), touch the hearts of the tens of millions of funeral spectators and inspire them to dust off their Bibles and seek the Lord.
    Thank you again, Bill, for describing so eloquently the historic significance of the passing of the Queen and the reverent way the British conducted the funeral.

  6. Both my wife and myself Bill watched the Queen’s funeral last night. The pageantry and the splendour was an emotional experience to watch. She truly was a beautiful Queen and dedicated to serving her people but more importantly her Lord and Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. I fear that King Charles now takes the position of defender of faith. From my perspective he does not have the same commitment to Christ like his mother did and will embrace “All Religions” therefore in my opinion King Charles will hasten the great apostosy that is happening in the Western Nations today.
    Terry, New Gisborne

  7. I wonder how many know that ‘defender of the faith’ was a title given by the then pope to Henry 8 for his work against Luther?

  8. Oh, and second comment.
    I liked Welby’s address, until he uttered the nonsensical modern trope of ‘servant-leader’. Jesus never used this term, or anything like it. He stuck with the term ‘servant’. So should we.

  9. As the Queen slipped away rather unexpectedly and shortly after completing her last assignment without any fuss or ado, as well as God’s (double) bow over Buckingham Palace at Her Majesty’s passing, and the very perfect weather conditions for the entire funeral, suggested to me that the Lord was overseeing every detail of this historic and reverential event, and surely saying “well done good and faithful servant”…

  10. Thank you Bill. I really appreciate your articles and this one in particular on the Queen.
    It does look like the tide has been going out for more than half a century. But even as the tide goes down there comes a point where it turns.
    I can’t really see it at the moment but I believe it is turning. Whether that happens gradually or, like the children of Israel, the West has to experience some sort of a judgement on their behaviour remains to be seen.
    Jesus’ resurrection took place at the blackest and lowest time. Praise God.

  11. Thank you Bill…This is such a beautiful tribute to the Queen and passing of an era…and your insights.
    Thanks too for mentioning the sermon by the Archbishop Welby- concentrating on ‘who’ the queen followed and putting the challenge out to all who were listening, to follow Christ who is ‘the way, the truth and the life, none come unto he Father but by Me.’ As you said it was all just as the Queen would have wanted and arranged. What a humble and sacrificial life. Today I heard one of her sayings was to aim not to be great but ‘to do little tings with great love’
    I am sure she heard the words ‘well done good and faithful servant.’

  12. Thank you Bill. A fitting tribute.
    It was especially in her later years that the Queen came out more and more boldly in professing her Christian faith, and the way I read it is that on one hand she set out to defy the rigid political correctness which frowns on such public expression of Christian faith (meanwhile Muslim “faith”, Buddhist “faith”, etc. OK), and on the other such was her international esteem by that time she could do so with impunity. I saw a report this morning that the Moderator of the Church of Scotland talked with her in her final days, and reported that she was effusive about her faith. I suspect that she knew the end was near, and was looking forward to entering into glory.
    As to her earlier days, when I was living in England in 1974-5, someone in a position to know told me that her personal chaplain at that time was none other than John R.W. Stott, the well-known Anglican evangelical, and at that time rector of All Souls church, Langham Place in London. He must have had a profound influence on her.
    What an outstanding queen, and what a reign! She was the very model of a constitutional monarch, and we shall never see her like again. Throughout English and British history only one king has been designated as “the great” (King Alfred r. 871-899), and he did not reign over all England, but in view of what she has achieved through her long reign, I believe that Elizabeth II should be known as “Elizabeth the Great”

  13. Beautiful Bill,
    The path of the just is as a shining light that shines more and more unto that perfect day….. where iniquity abounds grace does much more abound. He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh….much to look forward to as we enter a time of tribulation…. Hebrews 11 part 2… days of Elijah….

  14. For those thinking we are wrong about Charles, please research his recent speeches especially YouTube videos. He is sadly not his mother in his beliefs in Jesus Christ or at best a woke Christian (which really isn’t a Christian at all.) God can perform miracles and I pray he changes Charles’ heart. Unfortunately, right now, his words over the past two years especially in regards to the Great Reset and WEF, tell otherwise.

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