18th September 2022 – A Eucharist of Commemoration and Thanksgiving for the life of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second

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22 09 18 HlM QE2 Memorial Eucharist

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(Photo: Twitter/@RoyalFamily)


The Readings

Lamentations 3.22-26, 31-33

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
For the Lord will not
reject for ever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone.

John 6.35-40

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By Rev Canon Dr Matthew Rhodes


Eve of the Queen’s funeral

It has been an extraordinary ten days. There have been so many touching moments. Even those who would not call themselves great supporters of the monarchy have been affected by the things we have witnessed. So many tributes of love and affection. So many anecdotes. Some of them amusing. Some very moving.

It has been incredible to recognise how many aspects of life that Her Majesty touched. I was listening to a farming programme early one morning. And heard about how, after the foot and mouth disaster, Her Majesty gave cattle from her own herds to farmers who had lost animals. It’s been extraordinary too to hear how wide was the affection for Queen Elizabeth. This week I had to go to Cyprus for a charity of which I am a trustee. Even there, there were commemorative services for the Queen and I attended a concert by a Danish choir. In Denmark they had been following events in this country and dedicated their performance to the Queen’s memory.

This week we have not only learned a lot about the Queen, we have also learned something about death and loss. The preparation that has gone into this time is staggering. We seem to have a particular knack for this sort of thing and I’m sure the Queen’s funeral tomorrow will be no exception. And I think all events have really helped us to deal with the surprisingly powerful emotions that some of us have experienced during this time. And although the Queen was probably unaware of some of the details of these arrangements, I expect she knew quite a bit about what was planned. Even in her dying she seems to have continued to serve the needs of her people. To show care for them in a time of loss and change.

Although the rest of us are unlikely to lie in state or receive gun salutes, the past ten days perhaps remind us that deaths should be properly marked. They are an important part of life and when we are bereaved we need the time and rituals that will help us come to terms with our loss. We need to be able to reminisce. To express our emotions. To confront our own mortality. We are sometimes too quick to sanitise death. To move on from it. The great mystery that is death deserves respect.

As I have been thinking about today, I’ve been rereading a sermon given by Henry Scott Holland. It was preached at St Paul’s Cathedral shortly before the funeral of King Edward VII in 1910. You may be familiar with a well known passage from it which begins ‘Death is nothing at all’. It is sometimes read at funerals. But I’ll come back to that.

Edward VII was the son of Queen Victoria. Like our own King Charles, he was Prince of Wales for a very long time and that wasn’t always an easy role to fulfil. But in his relatively short reign, King Edward became a very popular king. His death was sudden and for most of the population, unexpected. It happened at a time of political turmoil. There was a crisis between the House of Lords and the House of Commons in the aftermath of Lloyd George’s People’s Budget of 1909. But all this was halted by the sense of national unity which followed the King’s death. And it was in this context that Scott Holland preached his sermon entitled The King of Terrors.

In his sermon, Scott Holland was anxious to help people with their feelings around the death of the late King and around death in general. He acknowledged the contradictory emotions around the loss of someone we care about. The shock. The feeling of emptiness. The finality. The sense of sadness. The scriptures give vigorous expression to these emotions and they are not to be denied or brushed over. To be fully human is to dwell in our Good Fridays sometimes. To really express our sense of bereavement. God is with us in those moments. He too bore the loss of his son and shares in our grief. And we need to express it thoroughly. This part of Scott Holland’s sermon tends to be ignored.

But then Scott Holland recognises something else. As a Victorian and then an Edwardian he was used to being much closer to death than we are. He was used to being around those who had died. And he sometimes detected in the faces of the departed the suggestion that in dying they had discovered the secret. That somehow they knew it all. What lay beyond. Some seemed to have a faint smile playing on their lips. And it was from these observations that Scott Holland wrote his famous passage, ‘Death is nothing at all.’

Death is nothing at all. It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.

On their own these words can sound trite. Scott Holland went to recognise that that sense of continuity that they speak of wavers. We fluctuate in grief between hope and despair. But the hope is real. And he suggests that it is a reasonable act of faith to stand by it and assert its validity even in the darkest times. As he put it, ‘Though we may return to the twilight of the valleys, yet we will ever recall the moment when we stood upon the sunlit heights and saw the far horizon.’

This is the vision glimpsed in our readings today. That though grief is real, God’s love, compassion and mercy never come to an end. It is the will of the Father that all who believe in the Son may have eternal life and be raised up on the last day.
It is trusting in this greater reality, this hope, that we commend her Majesty to God on the eve of her funeral. Having acknowledged our grief, our sense of loss we can discover again that peace which passes all understanding. We can renew our trust in God, who in life and in death is always with us. Her Majesty the Queen shared in that deep trust herself. She knew where here ultimate home lay. And I’m sure she would want us to reaffirm our trust in God’s promises. To rediscover that resurrection hope and to look forward to the new things that God seeks to make real in our world. Today we give thanks for Her Majesty’s example of faithfulness and we pray that she may rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.



The Prayers
Prepared by Joe

We pray for the Church of Christ, for Bishop Pete and Bishop Sophie, our Archbishops Justin and Stephen, all here who lead us in worship and prayer, and all those whose time and talents are given to St Mary’s, St John’s and St Mark’s.

We pray for His Majesty the King and his family as they prepare for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth 2nd tomorrow. We pray for all those who are involved in that service, and for those who have stood vigil and paid their respects in the last week.

We pray for the nation and the Commonwealth.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We are told in our Gospel reading; “‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Queen Elizabeth was trusted with much, and was a good and faithful servant to you, Lord, and to this country. May we also show that we can be trusted in things in our lives, both big and small.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


We pray for the people of Ukraine that the war may soon come to an end and a just and lasting peace can be created between Russia and its neighbours. We pray for all those affected by conflicts and international tension; civilians, soldiers, those trapped in war-zones and those who are refugees.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


We pray for our community here in Walkley, and for the city of Sheffield, and for our neighbours and friends. At this time of uncertainty in the governance of this country, of increasing inflation and cost of living, of energy price rises, we pray that all that can be done for those in need is being done, and we pray that you will show us what WE can do to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


We pray for the aged and infirm, and those sick in mind, body or spirit, and those who life has proven difficult for. We pray that you strengthen them and bring them the healing and peace that belong to Christ’s kingdom. In a few moments of silence, we bring to mind those we know who need your healing presence.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


We pray for those currently close to death, and those accompanying them on this final part of their Earthly journey. We pray for those who have died, recently and in the past, and those who mourn.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


Finally, Lord, we silently bring before you those special to us, and also those issues and concerns that we have in our own lives.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


Rejoicing in the communion of Mary, Mark, John and of all the Saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life, to God.


Merciful Father:

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.