Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our passage from Acts describes a sacred practice of the early Church – the invocation of the Name of Jesus as a source of spiritual power.
Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you:
in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”
These first Christians were so invested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that they claimed the right to act in his Name. They also clearly believed that they had no power themselves, but only in that blessed Name.
To call someone by their given name is an act of familiarity, if not intimacy. For those closest to us, we often have nicknames or pet names, conveying a unique understanding of each other.
Calling God by name is an act of both intimacy and worship. In the book of Exodus, God takes the first step in that deeper friendship:
God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord.
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob
as God Almighty,
but by my name “the Lord”
I did not make myself fully known to them.
With the Incarnation of Jesus, God took the ultimate step in loving friendship with us. To help us understand the nature of this friendship, Jesus gives himself some “nicknames” throughout the Gospel:
- Good Shepherd
- Lamb of God
- the Vine
- the Way, the Truth, the Life
- the Bread of Life
- the Light of the World
Each of these names helps us to enter more deeply into the infinite love God has for us.
Do you have a special name for God? Sometimes, early in the morning when First Light touches my window, I pray with that Name. I ask my Bright God to light my life and the lives of those I love this day. At night, that same window is full of Sweet Darkness, a Name I call God as I ask that we all find a peaceful, protected sleep.
We might also ask if God has a special name for us. At different moments and moods of your life, does God speak to you with a personal, loving “nickname”? If you haven’t heard it yet, why not ask God to whisper it to you in your next prayer?
Prose Poem: from Rumi
“All night, a man called out “God! God!”
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Adversary of mankind said, “Hey! Mr Gullible!
… How come you’ve been calling all night
And never once heard God say, “Here, I AM”?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing!”
The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground
And fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met an angel, who asked,
“Why are you regretting calling out to God?”
The man said, “ I called and called
But God never replied, “Here I AM.”
The Angel explained, “God has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “God”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I AM.”
Music: Jesus the Lord
Let all creation bend the knee to the Lord.
In Him we live, we move and have our being;
In Him the Christ, In Him the King!
Jesus the Lord.
Though Son, He did not cling to Godliness,
But emptied Himself, became a slave!
Jesus the Lord.
He lived obediently His Father’s will
Accepting His death, death on a cross!
Jesus the Lord.