Queen gave us the 'most wonderful example' of a Christian life and death, says Archbishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury addressing the Lambeth Conference. (Photo: Lambeth Conference)

The Archbishop of Canterbury used his sermon at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday to pay a moving tribute to the Queen and the way she lived out her Christian faith in word and deed.

Archbishop Justin Welby praised her as someone who was able to transcend cultures, languages and nations because of the example she set.

"It has been said very often in the last few days, but it bears repeating that in her life and her example, God graciously gave us the most wonderful example of a Christian life and a Christian death," he said.

"Her Late Majesty taught as much, if not more, about God and grace, both in words and the actions that reinforced them, than any other contemporary figure. We remember her not for what she had, but for what she gave."

The Archbishop preached from Luke 15 and the parable of the lost sheep to speak about hope beyond death and the God who reaches out to the lost.

Speaking again about the Queen's Christian faith, he said she lived with this hope because she knew the love of God.

Her son, King Charles III, shares this same hope, he said. 

"Whoever you are, however lost you may be, whatever you think of yourself - positive or negative - or fear for someone you love, however final death may seem, there is hope," said Welby.

"Not hope as in the sense of 'I hope I will win the lottery this week' (which would be moderately unlikely as I've never bought a ticket), but the hope that is certain expectation of the future, the hope of God who knows you, loves you, finds you and rejoices in you.

"And Her Late Majesty knew that, His Majesty trusts that, and from that trust and knowledge comes the capacity to serve, to commit life to others, however long or short it may be.

"The Queen said that at her 21st birthday and then at her Coronation day address, and His Majesty said it yesterday in the Accession Council, and also in his address to the nation."

During the sermon, the Archbishop talked about the shared ability of the Queen and King Charles to make people feel special and even bring "healing" to the hurting people they met. 

"Both Her late Majesty and His Majesty treat others as special because for both their faith is built on the same rock. The rock of Christ," the Archbishop said.

"It is a rock on which we too can stand. There is room on that rock for every human being, however important or unimportant. Our sure hope comes from the fact the monarchy is not in a person, it is in God's loving grace that he poured upon the Queen and pours upon the King – 'Thy choicest gifts in store, on him be pleased to pour'.

"This is the faith that enabled Her Late Majesty to be such a blessing to us, and to people around the world, an example of wisdom and reconciliation." 

He said this faith was the reason why the Queen was able to shake hands with former IRA leader Martin McGuinness, despite her beloved uncle Lord Mountbatten being killed in a 1979 IRA attack. 

"She was able to offer her hand because she stood on the rock of Christ," Welby said.

"She knew that every person is part of the flock, she saw every one of her subjects and every person she met as part of God's treasured people.

"She knew that even in the shadow of the valley of death the Good Shepherd was with here. She knew that throughout this country's darkest days and greatest victories, the hand of the Lord seeks us out and guides us. His Majesty knows the same. We have continuity, we have stability through grace.

"Her life made sense in the light of Jesus Christ, her Lord and Saviour. So does that of His Majesty.

"This is a moment of deep grief, indeed. As Her Majesty said herself 'grief is the price we pay for love'. But that love has in it the reality of hope that can lift heavy hearts, heal wearied spirits, for it is love that originates in God.

"All that is lost will be found again, as surely as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and defeated death.

"And He will gather us all together in heaven on the glorious day of resurrection where, in a different context, as Her Late Majesty once said to us in difficult times, 'we will meet again'."