How well do we remember people who are no longer living who have made an impact on us, our families, and our nation? How do we adequately remember and honor them?
I recently officiated at a funeral for a relative in a small town. It seems at funerals we see a lot of people we haven’t seen in years. There was an outstanding young couple there. I had officiated at their wedding. The couple had a little 5-year-old boy who was very cute and inquisitive.
As we left the funeral home to go to the cemetery a few miles away, I asked the young boy if he wanted to ride with me. He said, “Yes.” His parents said that it was ok. I tried to answer a lot of questions in that short ride.
When we arrived at the cemetery, there were gravesites well over one hundred years old. It was probably that little boy’s first trip to a cemetery. He was asking about all those old headstones that were hardly legible. He asked, “Is this the best way to remember people?”
One of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation was John Knox, the founder of the Church in Scotland, which is Presbyterian. He was a well-loved and effective preacher. His ministry was so powerful that Mary, Queen of Scots, said that she feared the prayers of John Knox more than all of the armies of Europe!
When he died in 1572, he was buried at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. He is not remembered as he should be. The part of the cemetery where he was buried was eventually covered with blacktop to form a parking lot. Knox’s grave is thought to be under parking space number twenty-three. It actually has a small memorial plaque that can be seen only when a car is not parked in the space.
Wow – one of the great shapers of Protestant history – and his grave is now part of a parking lot.
I was shocked to read that the gravesite of Vince Lombardi has been in total disarray. 25 years ago, Gary Martin, not even a Packers fan, wanted to see the grave of the famous coach. He was appalled. Once a month, he drives three hours to keep the gravesite cleared and presentable. He said he just felt somebody ought to remember Lombardi in a better way.
Vince Lombardi was known for hard work, discipline, success, and playing the game right. The Super Bowl trophy is named “The Vince Lombardi Trophy.” It takes a NY Jets fan, Gary Martin, to help Lombardi be remembered in a better way. He said he even hopes to place a four-foot-high Super Bowl replica trophy made out of granite on the front of his tombstone.
We try to remember and appreciate people by designating a burial place, but obviously that’s not very effective as evidenced by some of my family, John Knox, and Vince Lombardi. The best way to remember and honor people is to live out the principles and values that they espoused. The best way to make this Christmas a great memory is to live out what Christmas is really about and be an example of what Jesus taught!
How will you remember people?