If you remember, two weeks ago I preached a sermon on our desire for ‘Everyone to Know My Name’, talking about how we all want to be included in a group of people. The theme song of Cheers says it all:
Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.
This week we will continue with that thought, but in a much broader sense. We are going to be talking about your name – not the naming your parents did when you were born, but the giving of our ‘true’ name.
There is an old Indian legend about a person’s true name. A true name describes the ‘real’ person; knowing a true name gives one power over the owner of the name; a true name gives you a connection to the person. A person’s true name might be self-determined, or bestowed on them by someone else. And a ‘true’ name can be used to manipulate of control that person for good or evil.
In today’s Scripture we hear from God that:
Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the LORD your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you. I will give up Egypt to set you free; I will give up Ethiopia and Seba. I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. Do not be afraid—I am with you! (Isaiah 4:1-5)
And the name God has given us is ‘Children of God’.
The message is clear: we belong to God.
Can you think of anyone better to know our real name, and who considers us His children?
What else does he say to us?
We Are Safe
When we encounter troubles, we can always turn to God. When we feel fear taking over, we can turn to God. When things get too much for us to handle, all we have to do is turn to God. God keeps telling us that he will never leave us alone.
There is a hymn chorus that tells us:
- No Never alone, No never alone,
He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone
No Never alone, No never alone.
We are Saved
By the death and resurrection of Jesus we are guaranteed a place in heaven. No matter how much we have strayed or done wrong, we are still saved because we are God’s children. Our name is written in The Book Of Life and when we appear before Saint Peter at the pearly gates, he will find our name there.
We Are Special
People can treat us unkindly or say horrible things about us, but we always know that God thinks we are special. . . special in his eyes. Didn’t he give us His Son so that our sins and misdeeds would be forgiven. This scripture says it all:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 5:13),
And we are not only friends of Jesus, but children of God.
We receive God’s grace. We do not have to fear because God is in control of our future. He will accompany us through the difficult trials. He will make sure our redemption is realized.
Because we belong to him. We are his. He knows us. He formed us. God’s people are his possession forever. We are children of the Almighty God!
Like the prodigal son, we can chose to walk away from God. We have been given free will to do what we wish. But even if we walk away from God, we are still his children. . . and he will not leave us. He will never forget our name.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, sometimes we forget that we are your children and stray for the path you have destined us to follow. Be patient with us and lead us back, always reminding us that we are your children. As a good parent, you will love and keep and protect us no matter we our life journey takes us. We thank you that you never give up on us.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 7 April 2013