Requiem for Queen Elizabeth II
1 Corinthians 15:19-26, 53-58
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
September 24, 2022
Last Monday morning, along with many of you, and indeed much of the world, I woke up early to watch the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Much has been said of the glorious Anglican liturgy, the music, the pageantry, the transcendence of it all. As someone who is privileged to experience all of that here in this place, albeit on a smaller scale, that’s not what struck me. It was the normality of it all. Normal, in the sense that it was a Christian funeral in a Christian church for a Christian soul.
Last Monday, she was referred to as “our sister” four times. In the funeral of a queen, watched by more people around the world than any other event in human history, we are reminded that in Christ, no matter our station in life, we are sisters and brothers, one of another. We all share one mortal fate, and one eternal hope: the death and resurrection of our Lord, and our Brother, Jesus Christ.
Today, we pray for the repose of the soul of a baptized Christian, a member of the household of God. Baptism is the great leveler of human equality. In the waters of baptism, the rich man is born again, just as the poor man. He who has sinned greatly throughout an entire lifetime is welcomed into the family, just as the baby who doesn’t yet know right from wrong. In the waters of baptism, the future bishop is forgiven of her sins and reborn in the Holy Spirit in precisely the same way the future sanitation worker is.
Likewise, all of us leave this world in the same way. Death awaits us all. When we die, the Church commends each of us to Almighty God as a brother or sister, and and commits his or her body to their final resting place; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
In the epistle lesson, St. Paul says that this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Indeed, that is what we do at our baptism, and each and everyday thereafter as we “put on” our baptism anew in private prayer, and in the confession and absolution of our sins, and the reception of the body and blood of Our Lord at Holy Communion again and again.
This was the pattern of life our sister Elizabeth lived, something so beautifully seen in her annual Christmas broadcasts. During a moment of grief this week, it hit me that Christmas morning will not ever be the same. For the past five years, after the mystery and glory of the Midnight Mass in this space and a few hours of sleep, I so look forward to arriving here in the wee hours to join Fr. Sean in preparing for the simple Low Mass of Christmas morning. We arrive in time to prepare and then settle into the sacristy at 9:00 sharp to watch the Queen’s Christmas message on my phone. And we inevitably encounter the Christian paradox – that, at the last day, the last shall be first and the first last – the humble and meek shall be exalted and the rich shall be sent away empty - an anointed monarch – arguably the most recognized person in the world - proclaims her faith in One who, quote, “lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them,” she said, “because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”
Christmas morn may not be the same again, but we do not grieve as others do who have no hope. With our sister Elizabeth, we are all heirs, through hope, of God’s everlasting kingdom. In Christ’s resurrection, we, too, have hope that at the last, when all things are gathered up in Christ, we may with her, enjoy the fulness of God’s promises and be given new bodies, free of blemish and the effects of age, and full of life and immortality.
When the Queen died, the first words the new king heard were, “The Queen is dead. Long live the King.” This Christmas morn, rest assured that Fr. Sean and I will be watching the King’s Christmas message in the sacristy at 9:00 sharp. Two ordinary priests from Kansas City will be looking to an anointed monarch in a far off land whose lineage stretches back 1,000 years to be reminded that God’s throne shall never, like earth’s proud empires, pass away, and God’s kingdom stands and grows forever until all his creatures proclaim, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever.” Amen.
 Mark Broadway’s Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/mark.broadway.182/posts/pfbid02CxHW9KbYVAaUjZsrYxjzb5Y88SM8J1x4NSVWDSEx6gHCgPaWLYPLzE9M8coorNSKl
 1 Corinthians 15:53
 1 Thess 4:13
 Hymn 24, The Hymnal 1982, John Ellerton (1826-1893)
 Revelation 5:13
The sermons preached at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, are posted here!