On Being Remembered
This week the lectionary is from the Gospel of John 12:1-8. It’s the story of Mary anointing Jesus. It’s a familiar story during the season of Lent, a story of one woman’s act seen as preparation for Jesus’ death. But this is also a story of Mary and how she would be remembered. She was the woman who did the unthinkable, who crashed a dinner party and poured all of herself upon Jesus. She will be remembered for her extravagant show of gratitude, her exuberant display of love. Her act, the memory of her, causes us to consider, how is it we wish to be remembered.
Robert Schuller tells the story of a wealthy, powerful, and popular man in Tennessee who died. There were lots of prestigious and important people at his funeral and everybody was eager to be there to show that they knew the guy. After the service, there was a long line of limos, all filled with celebrities and heads of companies, community leaders, all headed out to the cemetery. One guy riding in the back of a limo suddenly noticed all these people walking towards the cemetery. There were hundreds of folks, lots of families with young children, and none of them looked very dignified or like the people who were gathered in the church for the funeral he had attended. He said to the driver, “I don’t remember seeing any of those folks in the church.”
“No, they weren’t at that service,” the driver answered. “These aren’t folks who showed up for the guy you’re remembering. There was another funeral today too.”
The man thought about who would attract so many people to their funeral and he wondered if another civic leader had died. He thought it must have been a wealthy person, a powerful person, a senator or congressman, maybe even the mayor and he asked, “Well, who died that all of these people would want to walk to the grave? Who was so important that all these families would want to say goodbye?”
“You remember passing that school up the road?” The driver asked as he turned into the cemetery.
“Yes,” the man answered.
“Well, the woman who died was the crossing guard for twenty-nine years. These are the families of all of the children she took care of for all those years. She was known for walking children across the road. She is remembered for keeping them all safe.” (Robert Schuller, Power Thoughts, HarperCollins, 1993).
What are the memories we leave with others? What perfume or scents follow us? How is it that you want to be remembered?
You are the light of the world!