Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A lesson from 500-year-old bones

The remains of Richard III, King of England from 1483 to 1485 have been found under a public parking lot. He died  about 528 years ago in the Battle of Bosworth. DNA testing confirms that his body wound up under a dreary municipal parking lot. 

So the body of a king was found in an unmarked grave where people parked their cars. That's not typically the way we picture the final resting place of a monarch, is it?

Of course, some might say that Richard III deserved an ignominious grave. His name is a virtual synonym for evil to many. Shakespeare certainly painted an unflattering picture of the king in one of his plays. But more recently some historians are saying that Richard's bad reputation may be rooted less in truth and more in an effort by his successor to tarnish his image. After all, in his brief reign, Richard implemented a few progressive reforms like the right of bail and the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.   

But what intrigues me is the revelation of the final resting place of this king: under a bleak parking lot with no marker. For hundreds of years no one knew the location of the remains of King Richard III.  If the grave of a king can end up paved over and forgotten, what of the legacy of those of us who do not hold such esteemed places in history.

Jesus advised us not to store up earthly treasures that always fade away. Rather he said that we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven that never fade away (Matt. 6:19-21). In 1 Peter 1, followers of Christ are told that, thanks to the promise inherent in Jesus' resurrection, we have a living hope of an imperishable inheritance kept in heaven for us.

Maybe the news that King Richard III wound up in an unmarked grave under a parking lot should serve as a reminder that we should strive for a lasting legacy through ambition for something other than the typical trappings of prestige offered by our culture. 

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