Last week, we had a visit here at school from an Old Reptonian (i.e., someone who used to attend the school!). This is not altogether an unusual thing. ORs come back from time to time for various reasons. On this occasion, however, it was a bit different. This time, it was somebody I actually knew, despite the fact that he finished school here in the 1950s. You see, this was Sir Nicholas Barrington – the British Ambassador/High Commissioner to Pakistan. He was in that role as I was growing up in Pakistan. And we’d met on a number of occasions. Mum and Dad had eaten at the High Commissioner’s residence. Mum met Princess Diana there. Sir Nicholas attended the same church as us, and he and I both did a reading in the same united carol service many, many years ago. I first realised that Sir Nicholas was an OR when I was sat in our first Carol Concert here at Repton back in 2008. As I listened to the band playing, my eyes drifted around the building we were in, where there are numerous boards charting the history of the school – ORs who attended top universities and won honours, various scholarships, Heads of School, and many others beside. It was as I was glancing down the Heads of School board (that is, the senior pupil, not the Headmaster!) I found the name ‘Nicholas Barrington’. Research over the following days showed that this was, indeed, the Sir Nicholas I knew. So when an occasion to meet him came up, I went for it. I went and had afternoon tea with him before he delivered a talk to our History and Politics students. I also told everyone I could that I knew him – it seemed kind of cool. Always worth emphasising the ‘Sir’, when telling them, too.
Reflected glory, you see.
And then, imagine my surprise when I picked up the paper last week and saw that someone had been awarded the Victoria Cross. But not just anybody. No, this was someone I knew. For those not familiar with it, The Victoria Cross (according to Wikipedia!) “…is the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces…” And the recipient was none other than Josh Leakey. Someone I knew when he was just a young lad. And again, another chance to tell people that I know someone famous. He’s even got his own Wikipedia page now…
Ah, more reflected glory.
And as I was mulling over this exciting week of knowing important people, and basking in the reflected glory, something struck me (no, it wasn’t my three-year-old; that happened later). I really like knowing famous people. Of course, my definition of ‘famous’ probably doesn’t completely match everyone’s definition. Because I only know sort-of-not-particularly-famous people, so have to compensate by considering them to be very important indeed. But I love the chance to comment on the famous people I know. When I picked up the paper and saw Josh’s name in the Victoria Cross article, I was genuinely excited – my initial overriding emotion was a sort of ‘that’s so cool’ feeling. And perhaps a bit of pride in Josh’s achievements. But I guess that can then be overtaken by feelings of ‘look everyone – someone I know is pretty darn important’. And however famous people are who I know, and whatever amazing exploits previously-unfamous-people I know are involved in, that is fundamentally not the place I should be going for reflected glory.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
That’s from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. And it shows a reflected glory that is far better than anything I’ll get from anywhere else. But how often do I get excited about it? How often do I tell other people that I know the creator of the universe? How often do I reflect His glory? And it’s not just a reflected glory, it’s a transforming glory. A glory that changes me to be more in His likeness. And that’s far better than tea with an Ambassador, or finding an old friend’s name in the paper.
I can’t think of anyone whose glory I’d rather reflect.
Over to you…
If you’re a Christian, when do you most reflect God’s glory, and when do you most struggle to do so?
If you’re not a Christian, or just not sure, do you want to be transformed – changed into His likeness? Because it’s an amazing invitation.