as i am reflecting on my sermon for this coming sunday, i am thinking about the names of God. the text is from the third chapter of exodus, where moses is just minding his own business with the sheep and goats when he discovers a fire. and from that burning tree he hears the voice of God calling him to go back to egypt to face his past and his people and the pharaoh. shuffling his bare feet a bit (he was on holy ground, for God's sake) he decided to ask God for a name, so he could tell people who sent him. its always easier to pass the buck when you know someone's name ("hey, sorry pharoah, but don't blame me, this wasn't my idea. take it up with mr. smith, he's the one who sent me").
and God obliges moses this bit of information, but not in a straightforward kind of way. the name that gets translated "i am that i am" is a strange name, to be sure. for me, its like answering an objective question with a bit of poetry. and i have all kinds of reflections on what this means, but one of the things it means, for me, is that God can't be nailed down with just one name. God could have said, 'call me father," but that wouldn't have sufficed. and so we know God by a thousand names, and even all of them together don't quite cut it. but they work for us at various times and in their own ways.
i was pleasantly reminded of this when i read this prayer this morning by carlo carretto, from "i, francis." i hope it blesses you, as well, that you might call on the name of God even now.
You alone are holy, Lord God, Worker of Wonders.
You are mighty.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are omnipotent, our holy Father, King of heaven and earth.
You, Lord God, three and one, are our every good.
You, Lord God, all good, our highest good--Lord God living and true.
You are charity and love.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are patience.
You are security.
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and temperance.
You are riches altogether sufficient.
You are beauty.
You are meekness.
You are our protector.
You are our strength.
You are our refreshment.
You are our hope.
You are our faith.
You are our most profound sweetness.
You are our eternal life, great and admirable Lord, omnipotent God, merciful Savior!