Lection Connection

May 16, 2021: Join the Witness

From Fraser Macnaughton


The recent death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband to Queen Elizabeth II, prompted in many people a realization that for most of us he had been a witness to all our lives, and we to his. Dying just weeks from what would have been his 100th birthday Prince Philip’s life spanned the ups and downs of our world for the last century. He was witness to and served in the Second World War, the culture revolution of the 1960s, the landing of men on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beginning of the Internet and world wide web, the new millennium, and what is now known as the Anthropocene age with its attendant climate emergency and accelerating species extinction.


This has probably been no better illustrated than in the acclaimed Netflix series The Crown, an historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, created and principally written by Peter Morgan. Over its four series thus far, we witness the unfolding drama of the Queen’s 69-year reign amidst unprecedented social and cultural change. Accomplished actors play the principal parts with incredible empathy. While the focus is naturally on the Queen, the portrayal Prince Philip evolves showing how he put aside any personal ambition in the Royal Navy to become the man “who was destined to walk two steps behind his wife,” which he did for 75 years.


Witness Prince Philip’s story and how he spent so many years at the centre of British and global public life gives a peculiar insight into the pressures of monarchy, as he walked alongside the Queen and witnessed the personal and national challenges she faced. While he is perhaps better known for some of his off-the-cuff remarks and inappropriate asides, his faithfulness and sense of duty to the Queen over such a long period of time demonstrates an endurance that we can only admire.


Indeed, Prince Philip’s life might be seen by some as a shining example of witnessing on the path of love.


Explore… Acts 1:15–17, 21–26

  • Who in your life experience has been a witness, an example of walking the Way of Christ?
  • When have you been a witness, and example of Christ’s Way for others?
  • Where might you see, outside of church or faith community life, witnesses who walk the Way of Christ?



May we have eyes to see and ears to hear when people witness to the way of Christ. For the Spirit is not bound by human tradition, or expectation, however we might wish her to be, but is as free as a bird, a dove, a wild goose, going where she will and surprising us in the most unexpected of ways and people. Amen.



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