Published on Jan 25th, 2015 by wpd-office | 0

“I will change your name. You shall no longer be called ‘wounded.’ ‘outcast,’ ‘lonely,’ or ‘afraid.’” What a promise!

This hymn (Supplement to the Hymnal #1062) came to my mind this past week, when John Jantzi, the District Executive Minister from the Shenandoah District of the Church of the Brethren, gave a morning meditation and prayer for the Council of District Executives. He began with a question that I would like to pose also for each reader. “Who do you call yourself in the middle of the night?” When things are quiet, and nothing can distract the mind, and darkness is the surrounding reality, who do you call yourself? I wonder if, for many of us, in a moment that may cause us to turn to our worst concerns and perceptions, we might call ourselves lonely or wounded or outcast or afraid. We might be tempted to call ourselves failures or weak or broken or worthless. And that was John’s point. We are prone to call ourselves the things that we think others might think of us, or worse, what we secretly think of ourselves that we could not admit to others and do not want to think about ourselves. Lonely, wounded, failed, weak, worthless, and most especially, afraid.

Of course, we want to pay heed to the words of Paul, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3 NRSV) However, too often, sober judgment is not as sober and careful as we might wish. Sober may equate to all the things we think are wrong with us, all the bad we have done, all the things we have left undone, all the things we are afraid that steal the meaning and purpose of our lives from us. Sober may mean trying to be humble by putting ourselves down.

Perhaps, instead, to think soberly is to think about that measure of faith God has given to each of us. Sober is to hear the scripture that John Jantzi shared. When Jesus came up from the water, after his baptism by John the Baptist, “he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘you are my Son the Beloved, and with you I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:10b-11 NRSV) Indeed, we are soberly overwhelmed by the fact that, although we are not Jesus, we are the Beloved People of God. We are the baptized who have been given the faith that we are beloved, that we have been given measures of faith in order to do the work of bringing the reign of God. Amazing! Amazing grace! Amazing gift!

The truth is that we will not, soberly, by dwelling on what is wrong with us, by what has happened to us, by where we have fallen short of the glory, have the energy and strength to get the work of God done. Harsh judgment of ourselves and others, labeling, calling names, holding grudges, does not help us bring the love of God to earth. Yes, we need to repent from the past. Yes, we have at times been lonely or wounded or afraid, and we need to heal. This is not where we dwell, however. After repentance, after healing, after learning where we have fallen short of that glory, we will best be able to move forward with energy and faces made radiant by the grace of God by humbly and yet firmly claiming our beloved status with God, claiming the measure of faith God has granted to us. As the hymn (Supplement to Hymnal #1062) goes on to say, “I will change your name, Your new name shall be confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one, faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks my face.”

What do we call ourselves in the quiet moments of our lives? I pray we call ourselves Beloved! AMEN

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Sonja Griffith
District Executive Minister

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