Dear People of Low’s, Last month was consumed by two funerals. One was a global event, the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who served her people for 70 years, longer than any other British monarch, and who lived to the age of 96. The other occurred much closer to home, the Celebration of Life Service for Pastor William “Bill” Zima, a pastor for 24 years and who at the time of his death at age 56 was pastor of Friedens Lutheran Church. Gibsonville. The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on September 19 possibly had the largest audience of any televised event in history, with perhaps 4.2 billion people tuning in or livestreaming at some point during the hours-long ceremony. Over 11 million watched in the United States, and over 37 million in the United Kingdom. The coverage in the wake of the Queen’s death on September 8 touched on many aspects of her life and reign. Unfortunately, there were only brief mentions of her strong faith in Christ. Dudley Delffs, author of The Faith of Queen Elizabeth, notes that the Queen was brought up by parents who made certain she and her sister read their Bibles, recited their bedtime prayers, and memorized portions of Scripture. Princess Elizabeth’s upbringing certainly helped instill in her a strong faith. As Delffs puts it, the Queen’s faith was lived out beginning early in her life: I found that throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth has shown respect, kindness, compassion, and curiosity toward all people. She’s as human as the rest of us but has practiced the Golden Rule since she was a girl—a princess— and treated others as she wants to be treated. While the Queen was not an evangelist, she spoke to large audiences of her faith, particularly in her annual Christmas broadcasts to the people of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth composed her talks with input from her husband, Prince Philip, and her secretary, but largely wrote the content of the addresses herself. A couple examples are quoted below: Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person—neither philosopher nor a general (important though they are)—but a Saviour with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, During the service a number of pastors of different denominations gave their testimony to the life of Pastor Bill Zima and his faith in Christ. Pastor Bill had been part of an interdenominational group of ministers who met regularly and prayed together. Two of them, one Baptist and the other Pentecostal, spoke of the devotion to Jesus they shared. After the funeral I spoke with the Pentecostal minister who told me that Pastor Bill was a “Jesus man.” He meant that Jesus, not any denominational doctrine or label, was at the center of Pastor Bill’s life. I left the service feeling all of us suffered a great loss in the passing of Pastor Bill Zima. I felt similarly upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The passing of any of God’s servants is a time for grief. But it is also a time of thanksgiving, when we can be confident that those faithful followers of Christ will hear the words all of us hope to hear when we, too, are in the Lord’s presence, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). I am humbled, and grateful, for the witness of such servants of God.
God loves you and I do too,
Pastor John Mark