That was the name on the quiet memorial in the woods. He died at the age of 58. I would learn later that he died from complications from cancer surgery. He loved to hunt and would do it on my brother in law’s property in NY, and thus the rock and plaque sit where Mike once hunted from, it was a very appropriate memorial, and a way to remember his friend.
We all carry the names of people who have meant something to each of us, who have touched our lives, family and friends who mean something to us. And we all like to be remembered even a simple stone or marker to help our name not be forgotten is good!
And yet, there are always those whose names we don’t know, who may also have had a big impact on our lives…
For Naaman – the commander of the army of the king of Aram, though a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.
But his healing happens because he listened to his wife. Of course! But she happened to listen to an unnamed slave girl from Israel who said that the commander should see the propher in Samaria. When Naaman goes to Elisha (a big deal – enemy territory!), he sends a messenger that tells him to wash in the Jordan seven times and he will be made clean.
Enraged that the prophet did not come out to see him, it is his unnamed servants who convince him to do what the prohet asked of him. He went and washed and he was made clean!
Servants and slaves helped a mighty warrior be made clean.
In the Gospel, Jesus sends out 70 ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go… They are not named but have a role to play in bringing Jesus to others.
And when they come home celebrating what has happened, Jesus rejoices with them. But they are never named. And yet they still have their names written in heaven, they are still known to God, grace has befallen them too!
There have been many over the years, whom we remember: The Martyrs of Japan, Uganda and New Guinea and others come to mind, we might not remember individual names but we remember their acts…
For example, the Martyrs of New Guinea – During World War II, as Japan threatened Papua and New Guinea, many missionaries stayed. Eight missionaries and two lay Papuan Christians were executed "as an example" on September 2, 1942 and during the war, both natives and missionaries suffered. Many Papuan Christians risked their own lives to care for the wounded and to save lives – so those martyred and those who survived and cared for the wounded are remembered on September 2 in churches in Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and here in the US.
Who have been the nameless ones who have touched your lives?
I recently read a story about Joe the Barber, that’s not his real name but that’s what the homeless in Hartford call him. (Anthony Cymerys is his actual name.)
He is an 82-year-old barber who has been giving free haircuts to the homeless in exchange for hugs for 25 years. He began giving free haircuts to the homeless around 1988, when he was volunteering at a local shelter in Hartford. He said he met a heroin addict named Arnold who needed a haircut, so he offered his services to him.
"I said, `Geez, Arnold. Not only are you a bum, you look like a bum. How about I bring in my clippers?'" A retired businessman, said his father cut his hair as a child, and he took it up. "It's all about inspiring people to do things for the least of our brothers," he said.We each play a role in the Kingdom of God as St. Paul put it, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all.”
Whether we are Joe the Barber, or a missionary, or servant or you name it, we are all part of God’s family, part of the new creation in Christ, loving God and our neighbor…
-> Barrington Bunny Story (Homework Handout)May we remember all those who have touched our lives, and in return, love others as we have been so loved. Amen.