The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). (John 1:35-42)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
Since the sad death of Queen Elizabeth 2nd last week the presenters on the radio station that I usually listen to have been doing just three things; there have been regular news bulletins keeping us up to date with what has been happening, there has been quiet and reflective pieces of music being played and there have been people sending in their memories of when they met The Queen. I have listened as the presenters recalled the many different times when people had met her, from those who saw her only very briefly as she passed by in a car, or who met her at a garden party or other event to those who had the opportunity to sit and share a meal with her. All talked about her with love and affection for a Queen who devoted her life to serving others and has been part of our lives for so long that most of us know of nothing different until now.
I too have met The Queen. I met her on 14th October 1994 when she came to visit the school that I was working at. The school was celebrating its centenary and as part of the celebrations she came for a short visit. I met her as I was one of the staff selected to be in the Headmistresses’ study to watch The Queen sign the visitors’ book. What I remember most about the day was the amount of organisation that was involved in planning for the visit, from the sniffer dogs that searched all the rooms where she was going to go, to the rehearsals that took place and the way that everyone had their place in the school allocated to them and how you weren’t allowed to move from that place without permission. It was all very controlled, but I am able to say that I have seen The Queen face to face.
The Queen was a woman of faith, a strong faith that she talked about quite openly over recent years in her Christmas messages. She lived out her Christian faith through the way she fulfilled her role as monarch. She knew that in her life there was another King, one more important than any crowned on earth, for she knew The King of Kings, Jesus, as her friend and saviour and now she will have met him face to face.
We may not have all had the opportunity to meet The Queen face to face but as Christians we will all have the opportunity to meet Jesus face to face; we do not have to wait to be someone who is specially selected to meet him, the invitation is open to all. The reading from 1 Corinthians is often used at weddings, because of its message of love, but it is also used at funerals because of the wonderful statement that “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known”.
I am very pleased that I was able to meet The Queen, but it counts as nothing compared to the knowledge that one day, like the first disciples, I will meet Jesus, the Messiah, face to face.
Thank you God, for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth 2nd, a life of service well lived. We pray for King Charles 3rd that he too will draw his strength from you as he strives to follow in his mother’s footsteps.