Dear Friends in Christ,
Since the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we have had the opportunity to watch, to listen, to grieve and to express our gratitude for her long service, steadfast care and deep faithfulness. Most of us have never experienced the death of our monarch before. Most of us have never seen the accession to the throne before. And so, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been glued to the coverage capturing the moments of crowds assembling, flowers being laid, long queues, and procession after procession after procession, all done with protocol-laden precision.
We have watched our King, Charles III, take up the mantle of leadership, all the while mingling grief with service. To grieve publicly is so difficult and yet cathartic too, for all of us. While most of us have never met the Queen, we hear again and again that she was like a member of our family. In a moment like this, we are given permission to touch again the losses in our own lives.
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the 100th anniversary of Trinity All Saints Church in Bala. Prior to the celebration dinner, we arrived at the church for a tour of the centenary displays, and there on the front doorstep of the church was a solitary bouquet of flowers and a little note, expressing sorrow for the loss of Her Majesty. I have to say, I was really touched, both by the gesture and that the Anglican Church would become a resting place.
Woven throughout this time of transition, we have been invited into moments of worship, deeply ecumenical in nature and steeped in our familiar Anglican Way. We have a vital role to play in helping the world remember and to mourn. I am sure that many of you, like me, will be rising early on Monday morning to watch the state funeral service from Westminster Abbey. Many of you may take in the Canadian civic commemoration broadcast from Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa later the same day.
We would like to invite you to join us for the National Church service being held at our own St. James Cathedral on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 3 p.m. Our Primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, will be the preacher. The Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will be offering a reflection. The Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, will be reading. Other dignitaries will be in attendance, as well as members of the general public who loved the Queen and want to pay their respects.
Gracious God, we commend to you the soul of your faithful servant Elizabeth, our Queen.
Receive her into your heavenly realm, and crown her with the diadem of glory,
as she lays down her earthly burden of duty and is released to take up the joy of eternal praise.
We give you thanks for the witness of her long life of service, sustained by a sure and certain hope.
We pray that the comfort of your Holy Spirit will be with the Royal Family and all who mourn,
until such time as we are reunited in the general resurrection of all the faithful departed
in the communion of saints and in life everlasting.
This we pray through the mercy of our Risen Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
On another note, this summer Bishop Riscylla, Bishop Kevin and I had the joy and privilege, along with our spouses, to be present in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference. The 12 days in late July and early August were spent in prayer, reflection, dialogue and building community. The days were long and full, and the experience rich with moments of grace. If you would like to hear our stories about the Lambeth Conference and learn more about the experience, we would like to invite you to join us for an online live-streamed event on Thursday, Sept. 22 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the diocesan Facebook page and YouTube channel. The session will be hosted by our friend Suzanne Lawson, ODT from St. Peter, Cobourg. Please join us and bring your questions! We look forward to seeing you.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto