Sermon from Revd Paul given at the Thanksgiving Service for Prince Philip

Sermon given by Revd Paul at the Service of Thanksgiving for the late HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

based on the appointed reading: Revelation 21.1-7

See I'm making all things new. A vision of the future bliss which God intends for his children.  And anything revealed by God in the Spirit is ‘trustworthy and true.’  We can have confidence in what has been read to us today, will come to pass, in the fullness of time.  A vision of God’s transformation of the created order.

A transformation that began on the first Easter day. a transformation that continues now, even in the midst of the trials of life that we go through, the pains and upheavals, viruses and conflicts, we must realise that all things are being made new in a slow process of change.

And it is not just God who is always at work.  We too are invited to participate in that work of renewal with God, in partnership with Him. It's not easy work, making things new, especially in difficult situations, but it is possible.  It can be jolly hard work, but working for change is also a work of love. Love for God and love for neighbour.

Perhaps we've experienced in our own lives a challenging time at some point, and that taught us something to make it better next time, that others might not have to suffer what we did, that someone else benefits from our loss or hurt; we make something new.

Whether we have power or influence, or not, like a servant given a talent, or two, or five, we must use them to make the world a better place.

When we look at the life of Prince Philip, we may have watched tributes, read articles, heard interviews, and what is clear is that the life that we honour today, and pray for, had a turbulent start in his early years.

He was evacuated as a baby, his cot was made from a fruit box - not the first human being we've heard of to have an improvised place to sleep - clearly it is an honourable thing to have experienced if not slightly uncomfortable, but like all of us the trials and tribulations of our own early lives are forgotten. It's good we don't remember these things, though they may well shape us in how we approach life in general.

And then for Prince Philip there was that experience of his sisters moving away when he was a young boy but it seems to me his natural flair and sense of foresight came through an independence and learning to grow up fast in his own life circumstances.

Amongst his many royal duties he was patron of the World Wildlife Fund with a concern for the world’s endangered species: and his views on climate change really were years ahead of their time in the public sense.  He really was a visionary who understood what it meant to make all things new.

I'm sure too that his early childhood influenced him to form the well renowned scheme known as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  All our four sons have taken part in that scheme at various levels.  The scheme teaches self-reliance, discipline, respect, and a care and concern for the community. An internationally recognised award that transforms lives.  It has helped to make things new brought new life-changing possibilities for those who've taken part. 

And then there was the undying loyalty to his wife Her Majesty the Queen and as a couple they have shown us the perfect example of a loyal faithful marriage.

As we reflect on his life, and the countless ways he has contributed to our nation we consider the present time.  The challenge for the world now, a world seeking to return to normal as we get to grips with Covid, is to ask ourselves should we want to just go back to normal to what we've always known, or should we seek, in participation with the creator of the universe, to make things new.  Will we learn from this pandemic to seek new ways?

Prince Philip, the innovator who wanted to bring positive change, but, like all of us had his flaws too, and he knew it.  He once said at a banquet, ‘you can take it from me, the Queen has the qualities of tolerance in abundance!’ which brought great laughter from all who were listening.  I should add that the Queen also said, we owe him (Prince Philip) a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.

So, let us look to the future as we commend him to God. Like all of us, in an eternal sense, we pray that he, and all of us will be perfected, renewed, transformed and changed from glory to glory.  That is the good news of Jesus Christ and his resurrection.  Prince Philip knelt in humility before his wife at her coronation and pledged his allegiance to her.

And so too, for his own, and our own coronation, receiving the crowns of eternal life (Rev. 2.10), he and all of us must in humility do the same kneeling before Christ to receive the gift of the water from the spring of everlasting life.