I was recently on holiday in a county which, like many others, puts a slogan under its name on the signposts announcing you are crossing its boundary. The slogan for this county is “A place where everyone matters”. If you live there, you will know where I was! I may be sceptical about the value of such slogans in practical terms, but there’s no doubting the positive nature of the assertion. And yes, maybe I should tell you that I was in Lancashire! Mattering to others, even to just one other, makes life worth living. If we matter, we are given a sense of worth and importance, there’s a connection built on trust and inter-dependence. In communities where folk matter to one another, there is a greater chance of community spirit and cohesion.
It’s when we stop mattering to others; or when we feel we don’t matter to anyone, even to ourselves, that we can begin to feel pretty lonely and unlovable. Showing that another matters to us is not always easy, either: and we don’t always want to admit that we need to feel we matter. Making these feelings visible can make us feel vulnerable, when we’d rather seem strong. That county’s slogan made me think again about who I matter to, and who and what matters to me. And where does God come into all of this? In the example of the life of Jesus, we seem to have a picture of a person who demonstrated that everyone matters: young and old, woman and man, powerful and weak, those highly visible in public life and those so inconsequential they might as well have been invisible.
Lord of all, today may we know what it means to matter: to you, to ourselves and to others; and may we hold out our hands to those who matter to us, in our families, amongst our friends and in our communities. Amen.