What is the history behind your name? What does your name mean? Does your name have some cultural or family meaning? I think it is pretty easy to just look at our names, and just shrug our shoulders with indifference. During my teen age years especially, I really hated my middle name of "Christopher". I thought it sounded awkward. It reminded me too much of Christopher Robin from the Winnie the Pooh books and cartoons. I thought I was way too grown up to deal with that "childish" name. When I used to ask my mom why they had decided on Christopher, she said it just fit. For many years that middle name seemed to dog me. I hated it so much that many times I refused to tell people my middle initial unless they would guess it. This view of my middle name changed when I became a college freshman. Suddenly my faith became an important part of my life. This is not to say that I still didn't think this middle name was clunky, but I accepted it as a reminder of the importance I placed on my Christians faith. One day, I took some time to look at what Christopher means and found out it comes from the Late Greek Name Chirstophors that means bearing Christ. Early Christians used it as a metaphorical name, expressing that they carried Christ in their hearts. As I have dived deeper in my faith I could see why my mom and dad thought this name suited me. Honestly as I look back, I have grown into my name, and I think it has shaped who I am. Now I see my middle name as a part of my identity and who I have become. I have bore Christ to a lot of folks, and it has shaped who I am and how I live my life.
In this week's text from Exodus 3:14, we learn God name, which is I am who I am. This is indeed classic God speak where God doesn't always gives us a straight forward answer. However, it does reveal a lot about who God is. With this name, God is informing us that God will be our God no matter what. God is not going to take off time to go on vacation; God isn't only going to be our God when circumstances are good; and God isn't going to abandon us for somebody else. We are reminded of this promise every time we remember our baptism. God claims us by name and that never goes way. God remembers God promise to us, even when we don't. This is the nature of who God is and why we can in turn go in our daily lives.
So what about you, have you grown into your name? Have you wanted to change your name? How do you feel knowing that God is with you every day? How does it feel to be named and claimed by God, even when you don't feel you deserve it? How do you live your life differently?
So what makes you laugh? Little babies giggling? Jokes by your favorite comedian? Life's little unexpected encounters? Or maybe another question I should ask is do you even laugh? I think many times the weight of the world seems to be on our shoulders and it is very hard for us to see the humor in much of anything. Laughter is important it is a good stress reliever for one. It helps breaks up the tension within us. Believe it or not it is biblical. This week when we look at Genesis Chapters 18-21, we find a story about a relationship that has gone south between Abraham and Sarah. The two of them were not speaking to each other because in essence they had tried to hurry a promise of God up with disastrous consequences. Some Holy visitors came to Abraham one day and told him that he had Sarah were going to see the fulfillment of God's promise for them to have a son, next year. Sarah laughed at this because she was too old to have a baby; her relationshp with Abraham was in tatters; and God promise had the scent of a wet sock to her. This laugh was not a good belly laugh, it was a cynical laugh. God called her on the laugh and said in effect that I, God, honor my promises. Then the impossible happened just like God promised. Sarah and Abraham had a little boy who they named Isaac, which means laughter. Sarah realized at this point that God does honor God's promises and that it is foolish to be carrying all this stress. She laughed and felt the release of the tension within her, all the pressure that had been consuming her. Sarah also learned that laughter leads to something even more important and that is trusting God. Believe it or not God wants the best for us. So why do we contiually keep all the stress and anxiety ontop of our shoulders? Why don't we trust God to help us with it? I think it comes back to control. As much as we think we can control our lives we can't. When we trust God, when we begin to laugh, we realize that we are not in control but God is. Then the pressure is off and we can breathe again. We can live to our true potential. So what do you need to give God control around? What do you need to laugh at instead of stress out about?
It is the start of the new fall programming year which means that with the narrative lectionary, a resource used to help congregations move through the stories of the Bible, we are now back in the book of Genesis. Some fun facts about this book of the Bible is that Genesis is the first book of the Bible; some scholars say that Moses was the one who wrote Genesis when the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness; and Gensis' name comes from the first two words of the opening sentence of the book. Genesis is about human's first relationships with God and with each other. What we learn in chapter 2 is that the intitial word to describe our relationship with God is trust. God trusted Adam to work in Eden. God didn't tell Adam how to do his job just what the parameters were and then God left him alone to do it. Adam trusted God had his best interests at heart and God trusted Adam to do the right thing. When God saw that Adam needed help God created a helper, a woman made from Adam's rib bone. They were equals and partners. So God vision for our relationships with each other is about trust and for partnership. How does that look in your life? Is your spouse really a partner in your relationship or are they not? How does that make you feel if they are not?
Another hard question to ponder is what does it mean to trust God in your life? I know for me it is a continual challenge because I want so much control. Trusting is giving up this control to follow where God leads, which I know for myself was a very scary thing. Why does this feel scary though? Is it because it is easier to say we trust God then to put it into action?
As important as it is to raise these questions it is more important to put them into action. So this week what can you do to show your partnership in one of your relationships? How can you talk to your spouse, or friend, or family member about how your relationship could get better? What would it be to trust God this week in your life? What would be different?
What do you with stuff that breaks? You throw it away because it can't function as well as new or whole items right? This is something that seems pretty common sense in our culture today. My plate breaks and I go buy a new one at Target. However God doesn't work this way. God uses us inspite of our brokeness or I would say because we are broken. I think many Christians believe that once we have faith, our life will be a bed of rose. Unfortunately this is not the case, we all experience the up and downs of life whether we have faith or not. However when we have faith, we are better able to navigate the challenges of our lives because we know we are not alone and that we have a God who walks with us every step of the way. Since we gone through these hard times, and have been beaten up by them but not defeated by them. We become a good resource for other who may be going through the same thing. God put us in other people's lives to help them see the hope that we have in our own broken lives. God uses us cracked vessels and pours God's Grace and Love into us and that changes us. The cracks start to emit light to the world around us, the cracks aren't a sign of our brokeness they are instead an opening to allow the light, love, and hope of God to radiate around us into the world for everyone to see. Is there somebody in your life today, that needs to see the light of Christ? Does somebody you know need some hope in the midst of their despair? If so sit down with them, listen to their story, and then share what God has done in your life, so that the know they are not alone and that there is hope.
Pastor Paul. I hope you find these reflections insightful and help you in your faith journey!