Did you know that 200 years ago today Spencer Perceval was assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons? How could you possibly have forgotten that? He was the Prime Minister! He must be turning in his grave, wondering ‘am I that easy to forget?’
Amazing, isn’t it? Tell them in the pub that Spencer Perceval is dead and they’ll wonder what all the fuss is about.
You know, I think one of the things we fear most is being forgotten. It really matters to us that our place in the world is marked – or, at least, noticed. So, we fear being forgotten, lost to the memory of those whom we love and who we hope love us.
And maybe that’s the key. However anonymous we might be to the vast majority of humanity, it matters that someone loves us and will remember us when we slip from sight or shuffle off our mortal coil. ‘A man without love’ is a terrible fate – even if it is a great Engelbert song.
We all need love, don’t we, but it comes with an inescapable logic: if you’ve received love, then give love. You can’t say you love God while not giving flesh-and-blood expression to that love by loving your neighbour. That’s the deal. And Jesus unashamedly commended the freedom and relief that comes from letting go of our selfish narcissism and finding that, as someone sang recently, ‘Love will set you free…’
So, this morning my plea is dead simple: please release me from the fears and doubts that crave love and affection, and set us free to open up to the loving of those who love us simply for who we are. It’s a great starting point. And when it comes to the last waltz in this world, at least we will know that we will never be forgotten.
Or, if all else fails, we can always hear the last words of God: I can’t stop loving you…