Beloved in Christ,
In our Epistle lesson this Sunday St. Paul exhorts the Galatian Christians to “live by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16). For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh.
“The flesh” we might say is humanity under the power and influence of sin which leads to death, whereas “the Spirit” is God’s gift of his life and love to each of us, poured into our hearts, making us truly new creatures able to resist sin and live a life of joy with God.
St. Paul goes on to list some of the “works of the flesh”: fornication, idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, envy, and so on. You’re to have nothing to do with these things, he says.
In contrast, Paul holds up the “fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As followers of Jesus, these are the things that ought to characterize your life more and more, says Paul.
This week, like many of you, I was saddened to hear of the death of our Queen. Her steadfast loyalty, service, humility, and above all her quiet and devout faith, was an extraordinary example to us all.
Carl Trueman, writing this week about the Queen noted, “in a world that was increasingly embracing casual disrespect, exhibiting a perverse pleasure in repudiating any notion of duty, and accepting uncouth behavior among its ruling classes, she stood out as reflecting a better, more civilized philosophy of public life.”
It wasn’t simply a sense of “duty” or “selflessness” that set the Queen apart from other heads of state, it was her faith in the risen and living Jesus Christ as evident in her very first Christmas broadcast in 1952. Then the newly enthroned queen asked, “Pray for me…that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
To borrow from St. Paul’s language above, we might say that in a world saturated in the “works of the flesh” by the grace of God the queen’s life more nearly resembled the “fruit of the Spirit.” That, as Carl Trueman says, is what makes her (unlike most heads of state today) a person to whom one can point and say to one’s children and grandchildren, “When you grow up, you want to be like her.”
The Queen is dead. Long live the King!
Let us pray.
Gracious God, we commend to you the soul of your faithful servant Elizabeth, our Queen. Receive her into your heavenly realm, and crown her with the diadem of glory, as she lays down her earthly burden of duty and is released to take up the joy of eternal praise. We give you thanks for the witness of her long life of service, sustained by a sure and certain hope. We pray that the comfort of your Holy Spirit will be with the Royal Family and all who mourn, until such time as we are reunited in the general resurrection of all the faithful departed in the communion of saints and in life everlasting. This we pray through the mercy of our Risen Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, we are taught by thy holy Word, that the hearts of Kings are in thy rule and governance, and that thou dost dispose and turn them as it seemeth best to thy godly wisdom: We humbly beseech thee so to dispose and govern the heart of Charles thy servant, our King and Governor, that in all his thoughts, words, and works, he may ever seek thy honour and glory, and study to preserve thy people committed to his charge, in wealth, peace, and godliness: Grant this, O merciful Father, for thy dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God bless you church. See you on Sunday.
Beloved in Christ,