Half – Mast

photo, hpstirrup: Flag at half mast in respect for Prince Philip. Whitechapel St James, Lancashire.

Public buildings, churches and many other places are flying the Union Jack at half-mast today as a mark of respect for His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

I have deliberately chosen this image because it links Prince Philip with a church and acts as a reminder that, for Prince Philip, his Christian faith was of deep importance to him.

A spokesperson for the United Reform Church said: “Many who have known the Duke of Edinburgh bear witness to the depth of his faith and his theological knowledge.A regular visitor to Mount Athos, and a keen questioner of preachers, his faith was much more than nominal.”

He was baptized by the Greek Orthodox Church and in 1947, just before his marriage to Her Majesty the Queen he was ‘received’ into the Church of England by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher. The present Archbishop Justin Welby, yesterday paid thanks to God for the Prince’s exraordinary life and dedicated service and for his unfailing support and unstinting loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen for 73 years.

The Archbishop went on to say, “He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service.”

He had a deep joy for life and for people. The Archbishop spoke of, “his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.”

He will be particularly remembered for The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which he founded in 1956, and which the Archbishop said, “has inspired generations of young people to help others and instilled in them a vision for citizenship and a desire to serve their communities.”

With reference to the task we face in rebuilding our lives and our society as a result of Covid-19, the Archbishop said that we can draw inspiration from Prince Philip’s “fortitude and a deep sense of commitment to serving others. Throughout his life Prince Philip displayed those qualities in abundance, and I pray that we can take inspiration from his example.”

His was a life guided by God and given over to humble and totally dedicated service; an independent thinker with a pragmatic faith on which he drew in good times and in not so good.He was an example of the self-giving which Jesus instils in his followers. He was filled with Grace which flowed from God into a life rejoicing in a theological and spiritual understanding of God’s love. This love has now drawn him into the nearer presence of God and to resurrection joy.

Heavenly Father, we give you thanks because through Jesus our Risen Christ,
you have given us the hope of a glorious resurrection;
so that, although death comes to us all,
yet we rejoice in the promise of eternal life;
for to your faithful people life is changed not taken away;
and when our mortal flesh is laid aside,
an everlasting dwelling place is made ready for us in heaven.

Common Worship, Church of England

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