Honouring People

One of the beautiful ideas that lie at the heart of the Christian faith is that we were made in the image of God.

If we believe it to be true, it should fundamentally impact how we seek to treat other people. If I am honest, and it’s not a nice thing to admit, perhaps I don’t always treat others in this way. Maybe I believe some people are created in the image of God (particularly the ones I like and find easy to relate to)m while others make it more challenging to reach that conclusion.

One of the aspects of my work, that I consider to be a great honour and privilege, is to give an address at a funeral service. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the things that are important in someone’s life, to think about their character and to also share some thoughts about the Christian hope of a life beyond this one.

It’s a good point to ask the question, “How can we honour this person?” Yes, we can speak of their achievements and successes, but we can also consider some of the challenges they faced. How did they deal with adversity? Did faith play a part in their approach to dealing with various things? What did that look like in practice?

I recently attended a lunch to honour a colleague who had retired. This colleague had been the chairman of a board that I serve on and getting together to share food and fellowship was a great way to express our gratitude for the wisdom and experience he brought to the role. 

I have seen open topped buses making their way through city centre streets to honour the sporting achievements of certain teams. Some people have achieved recognition in the King’s honours list, and their contribution to public life has been acknowledged in an intimate ceremony with a member of the royal family bestowing the honour.

When a president or member of the royal family, come to town, very often roads are closed and security measures put in place to make their visit smooth and trouble free. 

I recently finished ‘Mary P’, the autobiography of Mary Peters who achieved Olympic Gold in Munich in 1972. She was awarded the freedom of the city of Belfast in 2013 for her contribution to athletics in Northern Ireland and, in accordance with an ancient custom, she was allowed to herd sheep through the city centre alongside the then Lord Mayor of the city.

During the season of Lent, I’ve been thinking about people who, over the years, have contributed quietly, but significantly, to the building up of the church over many years through their prayers, through their presence and through sacrificial giving, both of their time and their material resources.

I’ve been conscious that many of these people are no longer in circulation in the way they once were, perhaps for health or other reasons. I wanted to drop a selection of them a note simply to say ‘thank you’ for all they have done, for the encouragement it brings and for the example they have set to me and to succeeding generations.

There’s a line in the marriage ceremony when couples make their vows to each other that always moves me. It says, “With my body I honour you and all that I have I share with you.”

How do you honour another person with your body? Maybe it’s about physical intimacy in the marriage relationship but, maybe, it’s about creatively thinking about how do I honour the other person? It might mean cooking them a meal, ironing some of their clothes if they are tired or busy, running them a bath? It might mean writing them a silly note or stopping off at the garage to bring them a treat after a stressful day. Maybe it’s sitting down and giving that person your undivided attention, or making them a cup of tea, or taking them for a walk; the possibilities are endless.

I wonder are there ways you might be able to honour people you come in contact with? It might be our loved ones and family who we are, at times, inclined to take for granted. It might be as simple as saying ‘thank you’ to that person who runs an activity you enjoy attending, or writing a note to someone who did something simple that made a huge difference to you. 

Can we ask you to hold in your prayers the family and friends of Sadie King, whose funeral service will take place on Friday 1st March at 9.00 am, and the family and friends of Elsie Christie, whose funeral will take place on Tuesday 5th March at 12 noon. We pray for both families in their huge loss, recognising all that both of these ladies contributed to the life of our parish in so many ways over the years.

Look forward to speaking again soon.

Much love to everyone,


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