A Service of Thanksgiving and Reflection for the life of the Queen in Kilmore
A Service of Thanksgiving and Reflection to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II was held last Sunday, 18th September, in St Fethlimidh’s Cathedral, Kilmore. The congregation who gathered to give thanks for the Queen’s long and devoted life of service to God included clergy and parishioners from across the Diocese of Kilmore, both North and South, as well as representatives of Cavan County Council.
Preaching from Isaiah chapter 6, Bishop Ferran Glenfield said that in times of transition, change and challenge we need to embrace a vision of God high and lifted up, to acknowledge our need of forgiveness and to live lives for Him. A full transcript of his sermon is available below.
The service ended with two minutes of silence to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth and to reflect on her life and legacy. We give thanks for the Queen’s wonderful example of faith and witness.
Below is the Sermon preached by Bishop Ferran Glenfield at the service:
Its lovely to see you this evening in the Cathedral. It’s been a long day for many of us but in these moments of reflection and quiet with in this sacred space we come before the living God and pray: ‘Speak Lord in the stillness as we wait upon you. Hush our hearts to listen with expectancy. For Christ’s sake, Amen.’
One of the most memorable opening lines in all of the Bible comes from the book of Isaiah chapter 6. It is in your order of service; you may like to turn to remind yourselves of these memorable words: ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, the train of his robe filled the temple’.
The year in question was 740BC. Uzziah had reigned as the King of God’s people, Judah, a small tribal area in Southern Israel for 52 years. In the estimate of the sacred historian who wrote the 1st and 2nd book of Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles in the Old Testament, he was assessed as a good king. Very few of the leaders of God’s people got that accolation. Such continuity and stability in his reign gave the people of God a great hope of stability and reassurance in a very troubled world – the world of the Middle East which is troubled to this very day. Just like the long reign and constancy of Queen Elizabeth. And now, in the words of Isaiah the prophet, Uzziah has gone and his place will know him no more and what will become of his people, the people of God? At this moment of transition, of flux in ancient Judah, Isaiah was given a vision of God. A vision of the King of Kings. The higher power, the one who sits on throne of the universe. What kind of God did Isaiah apprehend?
First, a God of splendour. In verses 1–4 we see a God surrounded by angelic beings singing in worship and those voices and the voice of Him on the throne shook the very foundations of the cosmos. The transcendent God is sovereign over all of His creation.
Secondly, Isaiah comprehended a God who saves. In the presence of this transcendent, holy God Isaiah – one of His servants, a spokesperson for God, a royal chaplain for many years to King Uzziah and his successors – was filled with quilt. He was a soiled sinner. A glowing coal was taken from the altar and Isaiah feels on his lips a purging pain and the angel that administers the coal says: ‘Your sin is forgiven. Your sin is blocked off. It has been atoned for’. And this guilty sinner stands saved before a holy God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Hosts. Then Isaiah is asked by a God who sends to go to his wayward people with a candid message to turn around and to turn to God lest they come to self–harm and self–destruction.
In this time of change and challenge following the death of the Queen and in our post–pandemic world, we don’t need a reset as people are asking for. We need, above all, a vision of God. Isaiah’s God. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to respond in faith to this God by acknowledging that He exists and that we owe Him everything. Every breath we take, every step we make comes from Him. And we need to acknowledge that He is King and that I do not rule myself and I do not rule others. He reigns over all. We need to admit that, like Isaiah, we are soiled by sin. We are flawed, fickle, failures who need forgiveness that is beyond us and forgiveness that we don’t deserve. Forgiveness that comes only by the grace God through faith in His son, the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to accept God’s candid message that the road we are travelling on leads to self–destruction and to a breakdown of society in the whole of Western culture. This island served God and so did Queen Elizabeth. Her life was exemplary, exceptional. She acknowledged her calling by a higher power and a greater throne, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She admitted her standing before a Holy God, a sinner in need of forgiveness by His grace. And she accepted God’s candid message by living her life according to God given values of responsibility, of modesty and of graciousness over and against the prevailing tide and values of self–promotion and of self–love which is so rampant in our land and in the lands of the West.
And so this evening, at this momentous point in history, we come to pay our respects to this exceptional monarch and world leader and to share our sadness and our condolences to those who are part of her family and those who knew her as a woman of deep faith and integrity. But this moment will pass and fade into history and nothing will bring great change unless, unless we, like Isaiah, embrace a vision of God sitting on a throne high and lifted up. May we be given the grace and the will so to do for Christ’s sake. Amen