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Individual Human Life

On the 28th of August, this year, my family held a short commemoration, at the town’s war memorial, of the death of my grandfather, in World War I, on 28 August 1918. A standard bearer and bugler, from the Royal British Legion, were be in attendance, and the rector of our church read a few simple prayers, which I produced for the occasion. Though brief, and attended by few, it was, in its way, quite a ‘big’ event. Why was it held, people asked, was it a commemoration of the deaths of lots of men? No, just one man. Was he someone of significance – a senior officer, maybe, or a celebrity in his own right (like one of the many First World War poets?), or a battle hero? Are you, his family, of importance, locally? No, none of those things. He was a man of no real significance to anyone, except to us – and to God. In the ceremony, and its words, reference was made to some of his children who died young – very young, in some cases, as was common in those days.

The importance of John Vincent Thomas, and his children, wife, and half-sister (all now dead) is that every person, however “insignificant” is of ultimate, eternal value. The difference between Christian faith (other religions, perhaps, hold similar beliefs) and the materialism that surrounds us and constitutes the rulership (who govern us, and decide everything “for” us) is that to Christianity, and all who hold to it (few, now, we are told, and no longer “relevant”) each and every individual matters, and eternally so, whether they had influence and power, or not, whether they existed briefly, in the distant past, or are “modern”, whether our culture knows them and remembers them, or they are, to us today, as “though they had never been”, as Ecclesiasticus says. What we, here, “know”, and regard highly, are as nought in the totality of eternity, except in that the people thus described may have known, may have had opportunity to know, God’s love, here, in this current realm, as, hopefully, they will know it in the hereafter.

August 2018

See my review of Tom Tomkins’ Understanding the Book of Job