Skip to main content

i will give you a new name


in our church, we are continuing with a series called "letters from Jesus," in which we are looking at the seven letters in the beginning of revelation addressed to seven churches in asia.  we are imagining what it would be like if we were to receive a hand-written letter from Jesus to our church.  what would it say?  how would we be encouraged?  how would we be challenged? 

we've looked at three of the letters now.  this week we looked at the letter to the church in pergamum.  the letter to them includes some harsh criticism of some of their behavior, but it also says that Christ understands how difficult their situation is.  and in case they feel like they are stuck in their sinfulness, Jesus says something amazing to them:  i will give you a new name. 

the world gives us so many names, doesn't it?  our parents, of course, give us our birth names.  but the naming doesn't stop there.  it continues right on through elementary school, high school, and into the rest of our lives.  i was given the name gregory when i was born.  then i was flash.  i was eldest son.  i was curly.  i have been named a leader, a team player, and now pastor.  along the way, though, the world sometimes offers different names:  sinner.  loser.  shameful.  broken one.  guilty one.  unlovable. 

don't be surprised.  you've heard these names, too.  they are whispered in your ear by the impostor.  they are subtly spoken in every commercial ("you are not good enough, unless you drive a new car") and somewhat screamed by many magazine covers ("you are too fat, too ugly, too imperfect if you do not look like this!").  you've heard them swirling around your soul when you've hit the bottom, having succumbed to some temptation and been left to sort of muddle through the guilt of it.  you, too, have heard the voices, that you are not worthy of God's love.  that you are a failure.  that you are not good enough.  that you are unlovable. 

these are the names the world gives us. 

but Jesus, in his love-letter to us (the word become flesh) has given us a new name.  we are no longer sinners, but redeemed ones.  we are no longer broken, but healed.  we are no longer shameful; we are showered by grace.  we are no longer unlovable; we are the beloved. 

what names have you been answering to lately?  what have you allowed to define you?  is it only the final Word of God, which is the Truth that will set you free?  or is it the voice of the past?  or the voices of our culture?  is it the voice of scarcity or insufficiency?  is it the voice of guilt and shame? 

i urge you, then, to listen closely to the Gospel, which is spoken most definitively in the person of Jesus Christ, as it offers you words of incredible grace:

i will give you a new name.  you are my beloved. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

State College to Birmingham

 as some of you know, i have been working towards a goal i set at the beginning of 2020 of running 1000 miles in one calendar year.  today is the last day of september (what?!?), and so that means the year is 3/4 of the way complete, which means i should be right around the 750 mile marker.  however, i am doing better than that, as my 5 mile run today put me at 847 miles for the year, almost 100 miles ahead of schedule!  i am feeling great, enjoying the journey, and experiencing a real sense of accomplishment as i work towards this goal.   i have also enjoyed these little milestones along the way, just to see how far i've come.  as it turns out, 847 miles from State College (along the roads, not as the crow flies) would have me arriving in Birmingham, AL, right about now!  not too shabby!  only about 150 to go!

The Broken Path: the stations of the cross - Station 1

  during this season of lent, at the church i serve, we've been talking about brokenness.  we've been looking at the ways that our journey is often a broken journey, full of missteps, sidetracks, and dead ends.  and yet, we have been seeing, as clearly as ever, that those broken places are exactly the same places where grace grows.  the cracks are where the light shines through.   so, as a way to continue to reflect on this brokenness, the worship team thought we might do an art installation outside, on the church property, of the stations of the cross, but in a way that expressed not only the brokenness of Jesus' body and journey to the tomb, but also the brokenness of our world and our hearts.  using something i made several years ago, i thought we might be able to use old windows and broken glass to help tell the story.   so, in the end, i made eight separate stations of the cross, each one on an old window that came from an old farmhouse in bellefonte.  i used broken g

bad haircuts (for a laugh)

everybody needs to laugh.  one good way i have found to make that happen is to do a simple google image search for 'bad haircut.'  when you do so, some of the following gems show up.  thankfully, my 9th grade school picture does NOT show up.  otherwise, it would certianly make this list!  please laugh freely and without inhibition.  thank you and have a nice day.