Spine of a Bible


Pastor’s sermon at church this past Sunday was based on the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:16-20. He focused specifically on these words, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” After sharing the basis for his message, Pastor told us some of the names and titles he’s been called which included nerd, dad, son and Pastor Dude (my favorite).  He invited us all to also to think about the many names we’ve be called, and then pointed out that at baptism we received the names reflected in the text for the day.



There are many names for God, including Counselor, Good Shepherd and Prince of Peace amongst others. The important thing about names Pastor explained, is that they tell you and others who and whose you are. Often names have a purpose and provide direction. Such is the case in the text, because Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations and name them.” There is purpose because when you are given God’s name you are made one with the community of believers. Pastor encouraged us, as those who have been named, to go out and bless others with the name and to draw them into the unity, community and love that is God. He reminded us that “There is profound power in names. What you call people shapes, molds and impacts them. The most important name each of us have is God’s.”



The sermon got me thinking about how the names we call each other really do have an effect. They can serve as motivation, either to live up to, or prove others wrong about the labels they’ve put on us. I also thought about the importance society gives to 1st Amendment rights and the ability to speak freely. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with that principle, but for me the conflict is that I know words can wound. In my professional life I have been called among other things mediocre, a disaster,  and incompetent.  Though hurtful, that name calling motivated me to be objectively excellent, so that there could be no doubt about my capabilities or the fact that I belonged in the academy just as much as the speakers.  Folks from blue collar backgrounds  have unique challenges in navigating the academy, and women of color have additional difficulties. By the way, knowing that I am named by God, I lean upon my faith community and my belief that “If he brought you to it, he’ll bring you through it,” to weather the tempests of my professional life.  Anyway, I say all this to say that I found Pastor’s sermon helpful and profound on many different levels. It certainly has applicability in both my spiritual and professional life.

I hope that you, gentle reader, will remember that words have power, and think carefully about what you call/name others. Let love be your guide.

Love (Two red hearts)