Many commentators and interviews have been aired over the last few days and many of them gave a deeper insight into his personality and so many other things that marked his as a person and supprting companion to the Queen.
Not many interviews however, I find none to be honest, were about his faith and how it made him the man he was. But, last Friday on the radio, I heard an interview with John Pritchard, the former bishop of our Diocese. John told the story how he once held a sermon with having Prince Philip under his audience. After service had ended, Prince Philip went to bishop John and said: I don’t agree with what you said.
This made me to make some observations about Prince Philip’s character. In the first place I thought: this is rather un-English to be so direct. When I started the priesthood up in the North, that although people had the character of calling 'a spade, a spade', they still were very polite when it came to responding to my sermons. It was to such an extent that when I received a compliment, my first reaction was: 'I have said somehting wrong here, but I don't know what yet'.
The second observation is that Prince Philip wasn’t afraid of speaking his opinion, although some say it might have been wiser not to say too much avoiding problems with what he said. Saying nothing is keeping your head under the radar. No one notices you, but no one cares. Unfortunately, many Christians have that kind of attitude; keep your faith under the radar, so no one notices, but no one cares. We’re not called to put our light under a bushel or keep it in the dark. In speaking our faith in what we say, we might make the odd mistake but at least we do something with our faith for God’s glory. And people will notice it and in doing so we have become ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
Another, third observation showed that Prince Philip was not afraid to speak about his faith, or what he deemed to be important for him. This becomes obvious when he gave his opinion to bishop John in this matter regarding of his own Christian faith. In saying he didn’t agree with bishop John he showed he had thought about the subject himself and he had come to a different conclusion. Even if the conclusion was different from bishop John’s idea’s, Prince Philip had found reasons to disagree. Reasons don’t come by themselves, but after deliberation and pondering over the subject.
As most of us, I’ve never met Prince Philip and all I know about him is from hear-say or from journalists. I’ve never heard or seen him speaking in public about his faith, but although he was not vocal about it, given the reaction to John’s sermon, he appears to have been into a certain extent like the person mentioned in our reading from the book of Lamentations:
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
It’s over 10 years ago by now that Margaret’s mother passed away at the age of 103. In speaking with Margaret about her mother’s faith, Margaret said her mother did not often spoke about her faith. But, as Margaret continued, her mother came from a generation and background in which the existence of God wasn’t challenged or doubted. God was there, and He was part of life, with or without words. God as being part of live was as normal as the air we breath. Going to church, saying prayers and making God part of normal life, was a norm that was practiced, not challenged.
With the passing away of Prince Philip we’ve lost as it seems one of those personalities from a bygone era who, with all his questions, opinions and perhaps his doubts still accepted God as part of his life. And in letting God be such a part of his life, he did what he believed to be his duty.
It can be a lesson for us all, to live daily with God through Jesus Christ, so that it builds up our own faith. Making Him part of our life and pondering on His words as given to us in the Bible. And in doing this, we become ambassadors of God, and it will be noticed by others in the things we do to the glory of God our Father.
So, being an ambassador of Christ becomes visible in the things we say and in the things we do. And each one of us might be better in the one than in the other, or even good at both. But, at least we do something with our faith to let it be light for others and an example to follow. Or as the apostle Paul wrote to Titus (2:7): Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works.