Funeral Proceedings and Regal Processions: How the Queen’s Passing Reminds Us of our True Home
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession…
The recent ceremonies surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth II communicated solemnity, sadness, honor, and dignity. Not only a nation, but much of the world mourned the death of the Queen, who for decades symbolized the solidity of the British monarchy.
Without wanting to be flippant, the ceremonies reminded us: no one does state events like the English. Perhaps the most moving moment I glimpsed was the procession of the eight grandchildren of the Queen to stand vigil by her body. This poignant scene reminded me of another kind of procession. It is the “triumphal procession” of Christ and his people (2 Corinthians 2:14). This is a most ironic comment from the quill of the apostle Paul. Paul himself did not feature prominently in many grand state occasions. He faced continual danger, was wrecked at sea, had been attacked by Jew and Gentile alike, nearly killed on multiple occasions, and traversed the Greco-Roman world on four separate exhausting missionary journeys.
So how was it that Paul could say Christ “always” leads his people in “triumphal procession?” For this image, Paul drew from the real occasion of the Roman victory parades, when the slaves of a captured people walked in front of the army as a visible sign of Rome’s conquest. Yet though Christians who walked with Christ knew suffering and hardship, as he portrayed it, the follower of Christ who walked with Christ was not defeated or ruined. The believer knew the atoning and resurrecting power of Christ, and at every moment of their life accessed this power to overcome the world.
This was not only true in Paul’s day. It is true today, and will be true until to the end of the age. Christ walked out of the grave nearly 2,000 years ago. Since then, he has claimed sinners for his own. All who are saved by God in the name of Christ are being led out of this realm of death into the realm of everlasting life. This is not simply what we await; it is what has already dawned for us.
Why does this matter for Christians concerned with their country? What significance does this biblical truth have for us as we engage politics? Let me give you just one encouraging affirmation in response. In 2022, it is easy — even very easy — to be discouraged about the state of America, and the West beyond. It is not hard to find reasons for sadness when it comes to our nation. Even when we are able to identify virtuous leaders, it can be disheartening to see how few believers rally to their cause. For these reasons, if we are not careful, we can operate in the keys of anxiety, fear, and even despair.
Perhaps we need to pay attention to this brief image from Paul, then. God’s people never walk in defeat. Every moment we exist is a moment funded by the mercy and grace of God. Every righteous project we champion is one that God’s own Spirit has empowered us to tackle. Every day we fight the flesh, kill sin, and seek to be salt and light is a day granted us by our Sovereign. In all these seconds, minutes, and hours of our lives, we are not losing. We are not defeated by evil powers, even if it looks and feels that way. Our Lord and master Jesus Christ is continually leading us toward our true home, the new heavens and the new earth. Satan will ferociously oppose us, but even his consequential attacks cannot take us off the path to eternity.
Let this reminder power you ahead in your efforts today. Perhaps you are toiling on a measure that will oppose abortion and promote life, but has been torched by the mainstream media. Maybe you work deep in an office, and sometimes wonder if your day-to-day labors — humble and anonymous as they are — matter at all. Or it could be that you do have a frontlines role but are discouraged, for you seem alone in your advocacy. In these and many other situations, born-again Christians must not live by sight, but by faith. By this I mean that we must remember that on this day as with every other day, Christ the ascended ruler is walking out ahead of us, and the banner over his people is victory.
Earthly ceremonies come and go, some of them reminding us palpably of greater realities. But they will not last long in our memories. The triumphal march of Christ to the New Jerusalem, however, is no such occasion. It is not a ceremony to recall only occasionally. It is the very destiny of our days. It is the promise, the sure and certain promise, of the gospel. Very soon, it is where we shall be, for Christ and his people will not always walk toward the promised land. Quicker than we know, and in greater delight than we have ever experienced, we shall be home, and there our joy will be complete.
Owen Strachan is Senior Fellow for FRC's Center for Biblical Worldview.