Names Matter

May 4, 2023
What’s in a name?

“So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi.” (Gen 16: 13)

Hagar, an enslaved woman, impregnated by her mistress’s husband and then cast out and abandoned, is met in the wilderness by God. She is the first in the Scripture to name God: El-roi—God who sees.

Generations later, another enslaved person, Moses, encounters El-roi in the wilderness, in the apparition of a burning bush. But he does not know this name and says to the enlightened one, “If they ask, ‘what is his name, what shall I say to them?’” The name offered is not fully translatable but is considered to mean, “I am,” or “I will be who I will be.” It is considered so holy that Jews do not speak the name.

God names some of the people in Scripture: Abram becomes Abraham, and Sarai becomes Sarah, and Jacob becomes Israel. John the baptizer, and Jesus both received their names from God.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20: 7)
Naming matters.
It defines relationships, unites families, and often confers power to the one who gives the name for another. It binds a person to their word and their works. The way we use another’s name can hurt or help us connect.

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am.” He was asking about how his life and ministry was understood by them. He was asking whether the witness he offered to the people was helping them understand the relationship God wanted with them.

Names matter. Have you had your name mispronounced? Or been confused with another? Or been forgotten? Have you had nicknames you loved, given by people you cared about? Or names you wanted to get rid of but couldn’t?

Imagine for a moment spending your entire life being called by the wrong name? Imagine not being able to convince people to use your proper name? Such disrespect is almost inconceivable. Yet, across our county and nation, lawmakers are prohibiting people from naming themselves, and choosing pronouns that match their name. “Who do you say that I am,” our trans neighbors want to know. Their teachers are being forbidden, or freed from being required, to call students by their chosen names.

St. Andrew is a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs for such a time as this!
Let us, called by the name of Christ Jesus, who believe that human beings bear the image of God, who love God, always love our neighbors as ourselves. When they ask us, “who do you say I am,” use the name by which they introduce themselves, and the pronouns they request, just like you do for every other human being you meet. Just like you want when you introduce yourself.

Really, it is that simple. Even Shakespeare got it, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”


Wake Up

April 27, 2023

Wake up.
SAPC is aiming to be a place “where everybody belongs.”

what are humans that you are mindful of them,
    mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
Ps 8: 4-5

“Grooming.” “Woke.” Two words that have become politically divisive language instead of being words which describe the forces that shape our behavior and thinking in particular matters. All of us have been groomed on some level regarding sexuality and other interests. All of us have awakened on some level to disparities between the races, and genders.

Being woke allows me to recognize misogyny and racism (and other sins). Just think of clothing and the way we characterize women’s bodies based on what they wear. No one is banning “Victor, Victoria” with Julie Andrews, or complaining about women wearing business suits with pants to work, only drag shows where men and transwomen wear women’s clothes to their work as entertainers. The anti-drag movement is a statement of grooming about their (de-) valuing of women and the shaming of men and transwomen “acting” like a woman, dressing like a woman.

Being woke is what allowed me to gasp in shock earlier this week when I read that Monday was a state holiday in AL and MS to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. Yes, they still do that.

Wake up and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard; obey it and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Rev 3: 2-3

 Grooming is subtle and pervasive.
Now, I have a great-great-grandpa whose picture hung over the bed I used to sleep in when I visited my grandaunt. He was scary looking to my little self. His hands were crossed in front of him, large and swollen.

I was told he was a war veteran, got shot, hence permanent swelling in his hands, and was a POW. We honored his status as a Confederate soldier. He owned a few slaves, “but he was good and treated them well.” I lived in Stone Mountain, GA, where the granite outcropping became home of the 1915 re-birth of the KKK, and is a state park monument to the confederacy. Though acknowledging our family history, no one in the circles my family were part of ever behaved in overt racist actions, nor spoke ugly of Black people.

(Is there any way to describe racism that is glad it was only this much and not that?)

Nevertheless, from sleeping under a soldier’s watchful gaze to celebrating the completion of the carving on the mountain, I was groomed by my familial and societal experiences to know my place as a white child of the south.

Becoming woke is the arc of the moral universe–it is bending always toward justice!
Today, April 27, 2023, is a day to celebrate. Because Americans continue to become woke, we are slowly erasing the honor we bestow on reprehensible behavior and public action. Today, a US Army post will be renamed, Fort Gregg-Adams. The general whose face remains on Stone Mountain will no longer be the inspiration for our soldiers’ service at this post in Virginia.

Instead, LTG Arthur Gregg and LTC Charity Adams, a Black man who rose from private to 3-star general, and a Black woman who was the first Black officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the first to lead a predominately Black unit in overseas service, will be the face of history for our current servicemembers.

Following Christ, who lived and died and rose again that the whole world might be saved, surely we are called to be woke from the sorry history (old and currently being made) that grooms us to believe powerful, white men are the one and only supreme definition of full humanity. We strive to be like Christ, who creates a new humanity, in which all people bear God’s image, and together, equally, reflect the glory of God.

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3: 27-28

Will you join St. Andrew PC as we strive to be a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs?