1 Corinthians 1v 2; Psalm 30 v 4
Recently, I received a telephone call from my eldest daughter. She was commuting to work and had heard a funny story on the radio and she seemed anxious to share it with me. The story was, why was the scarecrow recognised in the Queens Honours List? And the answer was, because it was outstanding in his field!
The strange sense of humour obviously runs in the family, but it did make me think how society does recognise the achievements of people who have made an outstanding contribution in their field or speciality over their lifetime.
The Queen’s, (or King’s),honours list has for centuries recognised and honoured gallantry in battle, but has also recognised individuals who have given themselves for the benefit of others. Captain Sir Tom Moore is a perfect example of someone who through his extraordinary efforts in raising millions of pounds for the NHS during the COVID crisis, has been honoured in this way. Sadly he passed away shortly before I produced this reflection.
Another source of recognition is by way of being awarded a Nobel Prize, which may be a little less familiar to many of us. These prizes are a product of a Swedish inventor and industrialist, Alfred Nobel, who on his death in 1895, bequeathed an allocation in his will to enable an annual prize to be awarded to, ‘Those who during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to human kind’.
There are five separate categories for Nobel prizes, which are; 1) Chemistry, 2) Physics, 3) Physiology or Medicine, 4) Literature, and 5) Peace. Nobel prizes differ insofar as they can be awarded to individuals, groups or even charitable organisations. An example is The International Committee of the Red Cross which has been the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize on three separate occasions.
Although the scale and enormity of the Nobel Prize may be out of reach to most of us, and the selection process a bit secretive, some other recognition awards are widely publicised and enjoy the limelight of the press and other media. We have all witnessed the BAFTA and similar awards on our television screens, with all the glitter and glamour that we associate with the world of films, cinema and the arts, and the emotionally charged acceptance speeches of the recipients. In this case the industry itself is recognising exceptional skills, talents and personal efforts that have made an impact on the stage and screen.
Regardless of where in society an award or recognition has emanated it goes without saying that generally it is considered to be a great honour to be a recipient and to be aware that your work and achievements have been recognised and appreciated.
So, if it is a great honour to receive recognition in the secular world, how much more of an honour will it be to receive a similar recognition for contributing to the work of God through our Lord Jesus Christ?
In the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church a saint is a holy person who is known for his or her heroic sanctity. Saints are people from all walks of life who have dedicated their lives to the loving pursuit of God. Many, like St. Stephen were persecuted for their faith and ultimately forfeited their lives, while others like St. Mother Teresa worked tirelessly and devoted themselves to the service to the poor and disenfranchised.
The Bible contains many references to sainthood, and none are more prevalent than in Paul’s letters to his churches. He emphasises that scripturally speaking the saints are the body of Christ, therefore all Christians can be considered to be, and called to be, saints.
1 Corinthians 1 v 2 states that, ‘To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified and holy,’ in other words to the saints in Corinth.
Similarly in Psalm 30 v 4 the Psalmist tells us to, ‘Sing praises to the Lord O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.’
If we, as followers of Christ, are considered to be as saints called into his church, how honoured are we to be offered such an accolade and be privileged to do God’s work in our world.
However, Paul also preaches that for him there is no accolade greater than to be recognised as an apostle of Christ and there is no reward greater than see people brought to Jesus Christ through Paul’s preaching. We do not carry out God’s work for prizes, we do it for love of Jesus Christ and everything he did for us.
My dad had a great respect for the Monarchy and the honours list but he was shaken when pop stars, notably the Rolling Stones, received theirs. Dad’s favourite comment was, ‘If you gave them a pick and shovel they wouldn’t know what to do with it.’
O for the generation gap.