Names are important to us; knowing who we are, and knowing others.
Identifying who they may be related to, and discovering family connections, all can often begin with a name.
If you have ever attended a conference or a large meeting where you were expected to network and mingle you may have been faced with the dubious joy of the name tag
Often a sticky label and a marker pen
And the task of writing your name and sticking it to your chest so no one has the inconvenience of having to ask who you are.
I think they are meant to help
Meant to make people feel more at ease
Being known and knowing others is important to us.
Now, sometimes our name is not exactly how we are known.
For example, if you have ever visited a friend or family member in hospital you’ll have seen a board above the bed with your loved one’s name ascribed.
Nowadays, the staff work hard to make sure they know the name a person goes by, but it doesn’t always work, if like me your given and known name match- it’s not likely to be a problem
But, often we discover, our friends are not known by their given name.
My father, James Bernard; was always called Bernard
But doctors invariably call him James, or Jim, or Jimmy
My son known to all of you as Jamie, is actually James!
And sometimes, the person we know should always be Mr or Mrs – not the familiarity of their first name. it simply is as it is.
Knowing our names; being known
Hearing our names and listening or responding when someone calls.... can never be underestimated.
Do you think God calls you by name?
Names are very important to God.
In fact, there are many times in the Bible when God called someone by name.
One day, Moses saw a burning bush and went over to take a look. God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses answered, "Here I am." (Exodus 3:4)
As Jesus walked down the streets of Jericho one day, he stopped and looked up in a tree. "Zacchaeus, come down right now. I am going to your house today." When Jesus called his name, Zacchaeus came down. (Luke 19:5)
God also chose to change given names:
Before the apostle Paul became a follower of Christ, his name was Saul. As he was going to Damascus to persecute the disciples, a bright light flashed around him. He fell to the ground and he heard a voice from heaven say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul answered, "Who are you, Lord?" (Acts 9:1-5) – Saul of course was later renamed Paul.
Simon the fisherman, was renamed by Jesus – Simon, I name you Peter, for on this Rock I will build my church.
Abram became Abraham
Jacob became Israel
And so on…
This morning we were once again reminded of the story of the boy named Samuel.
Samuel's mother was a woman named Hannah. She suffered greatly because she was barren; she wanted a son more than anything, so she prayed and asked God to give her a son. She promised God that if he would give her a son, she would give him back to the LORD to serve him all the days of his life.
Her prayers in the temple were so fervent that the priest Eli thought she must be drunk. However, God heard her prayer and Hannah bore the son she asked for, Samuel, and she kept her promise to God. When the boy was old enough, she took him to the temple and presented him to Eli the priest. From that day on, Samuel served in the temple under Eli.
As Eli was an old man, and Samuel a boy, it was Samuel’s role to care for and learn from the aged priest. So, to hear his name called in the night was not entirely unexpected. However, when again and again the voice calling him was not the old man, the boy was confused.
Eli’s heart must have filled with dread as he realised what was really happening… and telling the boy to answer, knowing that there could be dire news coming…
"Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."
Some people think that God only calls adults, or holy people; or wise people; or especially good people.
Truth is, God can call any one of us, at any time.
Because God knows us
Knows what we can do; knows also what we need, when we need it.
God doesn’t need us to wear sticky labels; for God knows our name just as he knew the name of Samuel.
Samuel was placed in a dilemma; he may well have received a prophecy, but it was not good news, and it was especially not good news for his master Eli and his sons.
Yet, the old man helped him along; encouraged him, helped him to put the vision into words. The old man listened, just as he had encouraged the boy to listen to God’s voice.
In his heart I am sure he knew that his sons were going to bring punishment down on themselves and the family. And he accepted the news for what it was. Knowing that God’s judgment was righteous and fair.
For Samuel, this was just the start; from then on, he grew in wisdom and became God’s prophet, bringing the people back to God, and eventually, bringing them a new king. But that’s another story!
Samuel, teaches us that age is no barrier; that whatever our age, or our position; whatever the story around us, God sees into the heart, and God can choose to use and inspire in and through the most unlikely of circumstances – if we can just pause, and listen.
|Hearing God in the stillness - Iona 2017|