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It has seemed at some points over the past week as though the whole nation has taken in a deep collective breath. As well as giving thanks for the life of a deeply loved monarch, we are absorbing the consequences of her death for our national self-understanding. Even the subtle shift in the wording of the national anthem has seemed strangely disturbing, as though the natural order of things has been disrupted. The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday will mark both an ending and a beginning. As scripture reminds us in a passage that has been read frequently in church services during the period of national mourning, there is:
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance.
The hundreds of people who have signed the Book of Condolence in Wakefield Cathedral are testament to the wider sense of national loss; the dozens of candles that have been lit are witness to the wish of many to leave a tangible sign of hope in what lies beyond the grave and gateway of death. For some, the death of Queen Elizabeth will have evoked memories of their own loved ones now departed, giving them permission, as it were, to grieve publicly.
If the past few days have taught us anything, it is that nothing on earth is permanent. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that ‘here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’. As the nation prepares to say a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth, we give thanks that she, like all of us, is a child of God and that she is now at rest in him in the city that awaits us all.
With love and prayers.
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