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Calling Names

Calling Names

Words for 1st Sunday after Trinity – 14 June 2020 – Parish of Felixstowe

A Cyber Sermon from the Vicarage 


Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.  (Matthew 10v1) 

God give you peace my sisters and brothers.

PrintWhat sort of a relationship do you have with your name?

Do you have a pet name that you entrust to family and close friends?
Do you have a work name that is used by those you meet Monday to Friday, a name used colleagues rather than by your circle of acquaintances?
Do you have a name that you miss?  A name you gave up when you married or were perhaps adopted.
Do you have a name you hide from?  One that was used to tease you and destroy you rather than help you become you.

Names are powerful.

We learn early on that the school playground doggerel about Sticks and Stones is a lie.  The deepest wounds of my own life have been made with words not weapons.

sticks and stones lieNames call and condemn
Names control and stereotype
Names belittle or value
Names oppress or liberate
Names inflict hurt or impart hope
Names add hatred or help love flourish

We, people of the Word, must needs be very careful with the names we use and for what purposes we recruit them.

We, people of the Word, must listen carefully to Jesus the Word speaking love and welcome in the middle of hatred.  Calling the rejected out of dark places using words of tenderness; ‘Child of Abraham’, ‘Beloved Woman.’

We, people of the Word must imitate the Word in refusing to accept names that condemn, Tax Collector, Samaritan, Sinner, Adulteress, and welcome all to feast at the Banquet of Heaven.

We begin this sacred task by entrusting our own precious name, the one with which we name ourselves, to the Word.  For only by handing over the power of our own name will we ever be endowed with any authority.

This is how God works.
A group of ragtag nobodies – fisherfolk, a tax collector, a terrorist, a traitor – are summoned by name.  Called toward God and then sent out in God’s name to be miracle workers.  Our Franciscan community describes it this way;

The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him.  We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.  (from the Principles)

Called by their own name they go out in God’s name and return rejoicing that not only have demons been exorcised but that their names are written in heaven.  (Luke 10.17-20)

andrew and superpowersWhen we can own our own name.
When we can entrust our name to the Word.
Then we find strength for the journey and love overflowing in our hearts.

Since before we were born God knew us and called us by name. No matter what names we have made for ourselves or had bestowed upon us by others, God continues to call us to become who we are by giving ourselves away.

We are called to be sent.  Summoned to follow and, in leaving our self behind, discover who we are for the first time.

John Bell and Graham Maule from the Iona Community put this into song beautifully in their hymn The Summons.

Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?  Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me. 

I wanted to only quote one or two verses of the hymn but each one has a line that grabs my heart.

Will you go where you don’t know?
Will you risk the hostile stare?
…and do such as this unseen?
Will you love the “you” you hide?  (These words make me go ‘ouch’ every time)
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same!

Names are powerful!

If we Listen to God call our name a part of us, the part that denies our worth, will be lost forever.  As we listen to God call our name we will find wholeness on the road to healing, strength to help others on the journey, and a peace that does indeed surpass all understanding.

Listen to the song again.

[This blog ‘Calling Names is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged]

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