The question is perennially asked: What will your grave marker say? Consider, if your loved ones tried to sum up your personage in just a few words at this point – what would they say? Is that how you want to be remembered? What are the few words that you would want to be remembered with? What is it that drives your life, that thing that you live for?
There was a company that tried to go beyond the few remarks usually made on a grave marker, and put together a monitor that could be fastened to the stone, in a protective casing, which would play up to 10 mins. of video tribute, cycling through pictures, in honour of the person buried there. I don’t know how long such monitors last, and those markers may eventually be reduced to the words chiseled in stone, but the idea that a life is larger than just a few words resounds with us, I think.
In our Gospel reading tonight we heard Jesus’ answer to that question. Jesus didn’t come to do His own will, but the will of the One who sent Him. The will of the Father. In a sense, Jesus is saying that He lives His life intentionally – so that people’s memory of Him, the thing that they’ll put on His grave marker, is this: “He did the will of the One who sent Him.” Or maybe more simply, “He did what His Father willed.” Or even, “He was like His dad.”
When Jesus was crucified He had a marker put above His head, which was maybe not an adequate one (though it was trilingual): Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took his body to the garden tomb, I wonder if they might have kept that inscription with Him, to mark the place until a more suitable marker might be found. We might imagine St. John going and ordering a marker that said: “He did the will of the One who sent Him.” A fitting tribute. Of course, he would have had to cancel the order a few days later.
When we celebrated All Saints’ Day yesterday, we made special note of the lives of the Saints, whose lives have been a challenge to us all – that we would, like them, seek Christ and His Kingdom first. Gathering today, however, we remember those who have been influential in our own lives individually: those who have gone before us, whose lives have touched our lives, whose ways have touched our ways. Often in positive ways that we seek to emulate; sometimes in negative ways that we seek to rid ourselves of.
What is a special point about each of those loved ones that you hope others can see in your life also? Maybe people will look at you and say, “So much like her mom…” or, “He’s just like his dad…” I have had the privilege of knowing some incredible people, some of them before they’ve left this life and some of them after the fact. I am given the privilege of staying by the graveside after the family has left, and I use that time to ask God to bring out in my life some quality that I could see in the life of the one just laid to rest. What about you – what qualities of your loved ones do you hope others will see in you?
May God bless you abundantly in Jesus Christ, who teaches us to be mindful of what drives our lives – of what we live for, of what we would be known for, or what our influence is on those we encounter daily. May you know His hand in your life, moving you toward Himself as you honour with love and memory all those who He has put in your path. Amen.