When we are born into this world, we are given a name by which our family and friends, and society both local and in general, may recognise our individuality as physical entities. It is the system by which our family, tribe and its global location is also made identifiable, and as we grow into adulthood becomes part of our personal awareness and impacts on that of others – for good or ill.
It’s a fact that if a number is actually substituted for someone’s name it robs them of that personal identity and dehumanises them. However, adding a number to that name as a method for administrating services in an organised and civilised society is of course a different concept. The former is a method of subjugation and control of a different order, and one that is also employed by societies who lay claim to be humane.
Prison inmates have long had a number substituted for their names in these as in those who make no such claims.
The following passage is the address given in a Christmas-time service at the Southwick Community Centre near Hove and Worthing in Sussex, England a few years ago, before the healing prayers and demonstration of mediumship.
Names are important to us who live here on the earth. They are a means of identification for other people – and also give us as individual human beings a sense of our uniqueness. We talk about the importance of having a good name – and no one wants a bad name! Among all the billions of named people who have ever lived on the earth only a relatively few names have been recorded for posterity.
Many of these are remembered for the terrible things they did while they were here; it doesn’t seem fair that so many who lived good lives and had good names during those lives are not remembered. Perhaps then how we live is much more important than to be remembered by name down here – we are told that we are every one of us known to God, and that our names will be written on the heavenly register.
But then again we are told that each of our lives is important in as much as we have tried to do our best in whichever way we can. If we follow the instruction handed out about five thousand years and so many generations ago, to honour our father and our mother, and to love our neighbour, repeated again by Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago, then that shall surely take care of our good name – to be individually remembered down here or not!
But this is a day we’ve set aside to remember the names of our loved ones and those of others unknown to us before now. To remember their names is a blessing both for us and for them. Those whose names we don’t know and known only unto God are also included here tonight. As Jesus said to his disciples: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” recorded in Luke Chapter10 Verse 20.
I will take you into the silent prayers we send out during the next few minutes with the words written in his last letter from Vilna, Lithuania, in 1941 by a young Jew called David Berger before he was murdered by the Nazis during World War II: “I should like someone to remember that there once lived a person named David Berger.”
Can you please put his name and those of your loved ones and those of those whose names are not known to you but known to their own family and friends in your own prayers this day. Amen.
I produced this page on the day set apart by American Jews to remember all those thousands of members of the Jewish community who were killed in Lithuania. A service held at noon at the 5th Avenue, 5,East 62nd Street Synagogue in Manhattan on the 25th October 2015.