"Whoever has ears, let them hear." Matthew 11.15
We were promised a spectacle of pageantry and tradition like no other and that is what we got at yesterday's state funeral for HM Queen Elizabeth II. As we were frequently reminded, behind all the pomp and ceremony a family was grieving. That they had to grieve so publicly is part of the burden of being royal in a media-saturated age and one would have to admit that they carried it off flawlessly. Indeed there was not much to find fault with about any of the events over the past 10 days.
This is not simply a reason to give those responsible a hearty pat on the back - though they deserve it - it is a slice of public life in the UK which invites our reflection. The UK's ability and willingness to put on such a show in the full glare of world publicity and despite the private feelings of the royals themselves, tells us something about our own feelings towards Her late Majesty, our expectations of her family and the way we present ourselves as a nation. Would the fruit of navel gazing be edifying? There is only one way to find out...
In the meantime, we are all left with our personal reflections. One of my own is the clear statement that shone through the choice of music: from the trenchant affirmations of belief, in such hymns as 'The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord...', to bagpipe tunes such as 'Mo Dhachaigh' (My Home). Another was the power and simplicity of the Archbishop of Canterbury's message and, in particular, the way he threw down the gauntlet of Christian commitment in front of the new king!