Focus on Faith

Phil Collins' "Focus on Faith" column appears Saturdays in The Penticton Herald and Kelowna Daily Courier

There are moments you will never forget where you were when they happened.

I remember sitting on my grandmother’s floor, consuming strawberry milk, watching TV when the show was interrupted to announce the king was dead; yes, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, had died.

Then the early Sunday morning, I was driving to Seven Oaks in Kent to speak in a Baptist church; frustratingly, I couldn't find the usual upbeat radio station to wake me up, then they announced Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris.

Then the events of 9/11, I stood staring at a TV screen in a shop window, wondering if this was real or a movie.

We will all now remember when we heard that her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died, a moment that will never be forgotten. Her life and death will be significant as a unique historical moment.

Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest this coming Monday with a spectacular service at Westminster Abbey. People worldwide will recall a life of complete dedication and unwavering devotion, the longest serving Monarch in British history, and the Queen’s very genuine and active faith.

If you have watched the moving journey of the Queen's coffin, from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh and on to London, you will notice the many church services, with bells ringing, prayers being spoken, choirs and psalms echoing through ancient homes of worship.

I grew up listening to the Queen's Christmas Day address; wearing our Christmas cracker paper crowns, having consumed endless turkey and Christmas pudding, we all sat around the small TV with the relatives and listened before most of the adults began snoring.

After coming to a deep personal faith, I noticed how much the Queen spoke of genuine faith and expressions of hope; in 2002, she said, “I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning; I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”

We recall the death of significant people and events because of how the person or the event impacted us.

Christ’s life and death are remembered throughout history and by a substantial percentage of people across the globe because he gave us so much life, faith, hope, forgiveness, joy, salvation and eternity, and he is still giving that hope away today.

Having met with the Queen before her death, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “I came away thinking there is someone who has no fear of death, has hope in the future, knows the rock on which she stands, and that gives her strength.”

May we all live like this.

Phil Collins is pastor at Willow Park Church in Kelowna.