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Second Week of Lent 2021: What's in a Name?

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous." Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.... God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."

Wooden cross draped for Lent
photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash

The account from Genesis is just one example of when God either named or renamed someone. In this case it was to mark God's covenant with his chosen people. Later, Saul is renamed Paul at the time of his conversion experience. There are many more cases throughout Scripture of God renaming someone. As one of my teachers once said, always pay attention when something or someone is named. And REALLY pay attention when something or someone is renamed--at those times God is up to something!

In the cultures most of us grew up in, our first name is often referred to as our "Given" or "Christian" name. That comes from a time when infants were first named at the time of their baptisms. In the early church, and later in Baptist and some other faith-communities, baptism included a naming element, in which the new Christian assumed a new name (at least within the faith community) or dedicated themselves, by name, to a new life in Christ.

Another way to look at it is, are we living up to our names?

Lent is a time for introspection. It is, essentially, a time to consider whether we are living up to our responsibilities and our God-given talents. Are we the persons we should be in relationship with others? Are we active members of the Church, the body of Christ? Are we grateful, loving children of God?

Lent, therefore, provides a perfect time for each of us wonder: are we living up to our names? It may even be a time to give ourselves a new "name," or at least a new purpose in life and faith.

In other words, it is not only what we need to give up for Lent that matters, it is also about what we need to start doing, It is about what name we should be called: Peacemaker, Healer, Comforter, Mentor, Follower, Disciple, Friend,


Naming Names

When God goes around naming names

pay attention

something is changing

or about to


No longer shall your name be...

As for Sarai…

Get behind me, Satan!

This is my Son, the Beloved!

pay attention

when God is naming names…

perhaps, calling yours…


Yours in Christ

Pastor Russ

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