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‘… whose service is perfect freedom’

By Canon Chris Palmer

On the weekend of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, I preached at the Sunday Eucharist at the Cathedral. I reflected on words often used in relation to the Queen: duty and service. I noted that the Prayer Book tells us that God’s ‘service is perfect freedom’. And I said that duty is being true to God’s call in our lives; it is being our true selves. So service and duty are not impositions, but the opportunity to cooperate with God’s initiative and God’s desire for us and the world.

Now just three months later now, I feel even more strongly how true this is. Queen Elizabeth II served her people so well, and in doing so chose to cooperate with all that God is doing. And amidst her admirable commitment to duty, she also appeared affectionate, and happy, and kind. She spoke often and movingly about her faith and how it was the driving force in her life – and particularly about how it inspired her and others to care for those around us.

People feel all sorts of emotions in response to the Queen’s death – sadness, thanksgiving, solemnity and more. There are many ways of expressing these. Amongst them, it was wonderful this morning to see many people come to the Cathedral to sign books of condolence, to light candles, or to leave flowers. The opportunity to do these will be available throughout the coming days.

But the real sign of our gratitude and admiration for the Queen is whether we continue to show our respect through the quality of our living. Will we allow our faith to inspire us to generous living? Will we discover our freedom in the service of God? Will we seek to be the people God desires us to be?

Or perhaps we can make the questions even more simple. What most inspires me? When am I truly free? Who am I? 

These can be scary questions, because they require us not to hide behind a mask nor avoid facing our truest selves. But so momentous a moment as this is just the time to ponder these things. I feel very confident that the Queen could have answered these questions, and her radiant example encourages us to do that same.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.