Last week, when my head pastor and I were planning the service for this week, the theme of “naming” kept popping up in the various lectionary texts. So, I shared with him what I’ve been learning from A Wind in the Door.
I actually have still to write a fuller reflection on this idea of naming, but basically naming is when we identify the core of who somebody is so they are able to grow into this better version of themselves. The opposite of naming is Xing, where you hate someone or discourage them rather than encourage them in this meaningful way.
So, my pastor preached on this topic, and it was wonderful! He referenced the book a little bit, but then let me share some too. He traced how God has named his people throughout history, including Abram (to Abraham), Jacob (to Israel), and Cephas (to Peter). And he expounded upon how this naming is what shaped people’s identity and helped them grow into who God was calling them to be.
Then, for the third time, I got to lead the communion liturgy–maybe my favorite part of the whole service to lead. I continue to use the United Methodist liturgy, particularly because it allows some ad-libbing concerning the Father and Son. (The section on the Holy Spirit is the invocation, invoking the Holy Spirit to be present with us in and through the elements, so there’s really little room for ad-libbing here.) And, like I mentioned the last time I got to do this, I wrote this part to go along with the pastor’s message.
So, this time, following “It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth,” I continued, “You named us from before we were born, calling us to follow you. Yet we turned away, Xing ourselves, choosing our own name over the one you’ve given us. But you continue to call us by name—you delivered us from captivity, made covenant to be our sovereign God, and spoke to us through your prophets.” I love looking at naming as a theology of the Father.
Then, for the section concerning the Son, it begins, “Holy are you [notice it’s still addressed to the Father], and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.” I then continued it with, “You, Father, named him your Beloved when your Holy Spirit descended on him at his baptism. Being the Beloved, he preached good news to the poor and proclaimed release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind. He named those he came in contact with: the sick, the hungry, and sinners. And you named us as your church through his suffering, death, and resurrection, and in so doing you delivered us from slavery to sin and death, which hope to X us.”
Wow! Although I have to admit to being slightly proud of putting this together, I’m even more amazed by God and the truth summed up in these words! And I’m thankful to Madeleine L’Engle for the language that has opened me up to this new truth found in the scripture.
God literally gives people names throughout the Old Testament. Then, he names Jesus the “Beloved” at his baptism, after which Jesus turns around and gives Peter his name. When God names, it defines the core of who we are.
What name does God want to give you today? What is the truth at the core of who you are, that beautiful place that sometimes you maybe forget is there or wonder if anyone can really see? God sees it, and he wants to give that back to you as your Name from him! Then, we can continue to grow into the fullness of who God sees us to be!