Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's in a name?

Today I'm wearing special socks: lavender and black with my name at the ankle (Julia) and the words "clever and kind" on the arch. They make me smile to wear them. How anyone knew me well enough to mass produce socks that describe me perfectly to be sold in a store in England... I'll never know. Are all Julias clever and kind?

When I put on my socks this morning, I thought, "My socks say I am Julia", which lead to the thought, "Who do you say that I am?" Now you can see where this is going- right?

In the gospel story (Matt. 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-21), Jesus asks his disciples about the word on the street about him, "Who do people say that I am?" The disciples tell him that some people think he might be John the Baptist or Elijah or possibly another historic prophet- returned from the dead. When Jesus asks his followers who they believe he is, Peter blurts out, "You are the Messiah (or the Christ)." For once Peter had the right answer, though Jesus urged him and the others not to tell anyone.

In the coming church seasons (Advent and Christmas), we will hear many names for Jesus. There are the names one of the writers of Isaiah wrote with a savior in mind, "Wonderful, Counselor, ... Prince of Peace." These are combined with other names we have for Jesus: the Vine, the Potter, Bread of Life, Light of the World, etc.

We do not use all the names, all the time- but certain names seem more fitting at certain times. We do not necessarily think of Bread of Heaven when we are praying for healing. This Sunday is Christ the King- when we think of Christ very differently than we will four weeks from now.

At a time when we are hearing Christ's name in a variety of ways, celebrating his coming and anticipating his return- I encourage you to ponder in your heart the names of God and who you say that God is. I know I will.

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