A Service of Reflection for the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was held in the Cathedral Church of St Anne, Belfast, on Tuesday 13 September 2022. Representing the Irish Council of Churches were Vice–President Bishop Sarah Groves of the Moravian Church and Immediate Past President Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
During the service a prayer was led by the President of the Irish Council of Churches, The Right Reverend Andrew Foster, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe:
“Generous Lord God, we give you thanks this day for the dedication to service and duty shown by the members of the royal family, following after the example set by Queen Elizabeth. At this time, may each draw strength from one another, from the long life of the Queen, and from their faith in God: that by personal example and the courage to serve, they may live for the wellbeing of this nation, and for greater understanding in the world, in the name of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
ICC Past President Archbishop John McDowell preached the sermon at the Service of Reflection. He reflected on St Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8 in noting that the late Queen comes to mind in following the command to think on “whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious and whatever is worthy of praise”. Archbishop McDowell continued to reflect on the Queen’s life and relationship with Northern Ireland, particularly drawing on the work of reconciliation in which she has been instrumental.
“There were many other words used about the late Queen during her long reign. Faithfulness, care, dutifulness, love and devotion. All of these could be employed to describe her relationship with Northern Ireland (with patience binding them all together) but paying attention especially to what she said most recently, the word which I think will be most associated with Queen Elizabeth and Ireland, north and south, is Reconciliation.”
“… as a disciple of Jesus Christ, Queen Elizabeth followed where Jesus led as women often have in the elusive and unfinished work of reconciliation here in Ireland”
“Reconciliation is about the restoration of broken relationships. And the word should never be cheapened by pretending it is an easy thing to achieve. By and large in the work of reconciliation most of our victories will be achieved quietly and in private: and most of our humiliations will be in public. Reconciliation requires the greatest of all religious virtues, love; and it requires the greatest of all civic virtues, courage. But as the great apostle of reconciliation says: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you”.
“And who can doubt that the Holy Spirit of the God of Peace was present in the mind and in the heart of the late Queen, when she spoke her judicious and generous words, and walked the hard road of reconciliation, in this Province, and island.”
The full sermon can be read at https://www.ireland.anglican.org/news/11470/archbishop-mcdowells-sermon-at-the