The month of November has traditionally been a month of remembrance for Christians, a month when we have given thanks for all those who have lived good and Godly lives, but as well as looking back, we should also look forward: how shall we be remembered?
Taking the school assembly, I retold a story from childhood days.
When I was ten years old, a girl called Sarah, whom I thought to be the most beautiful in the world, was having a birthday party. This was to be a day of great excitement, for it was to be the best party ever. On the day on which the invitations were handed out, I was absent from school with asthma. “Never mind”, I thought, “my invitation will be waiting for me.” As the day drew close, I grew more worried. Our two teacher school had forty pupils. There were twenty in the classroom in which I sat, and everyone else had been invited. It wasn’t talk of the party that worried me, it was the point when all the others went to the party that I was dreading. Sarah lived in a stone cottage directly opposite the gate of our village school. It would be impossible for the others not to notice that I was the only person not going.
At 3.45 on the appointed day, our teacher let us go from the class. I was very sad as I walked out through the door and across the playground to the school gate. Everyone else merrily crossed the road to Sarah’s house; very sad and lonely, I turned right and walked home – the loneliest ten year old in the entire world.
Then do you know what happened? Thirty years later, a new family moved into the house next door to my church in Dublin and they came to church.
“Where are you from?” I asked the man.
“From England”, he said.
“Where in England?”
“Somerset”, he said.
“Where in Somerset?” He named my home village.
“Where did you live in the village?”
“‘Opposite the school.”.
“You’re Sarah’s little brother”, I said. He looked at me in amazement.
It is fifteen years since I met that man, forty-five years since that birthday party, but the memories remain. How shall we be remembered? Jesus gives clear instructions about how we should be remembered, in Saint Luke Chapter 14 Verse 12-14, he says, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
How shall we be remembered? As people who were friends only to our friends, or as people who will be rewarded by Jesus?