When you meet someone for the first time what is the first thing you find out about them?
It’s fair to say that either you ask what their name or you introduce yourself. This is because our name is in integral part of who we are: it gives us an identity.
Here at Westminster Youth Ministry’s Retreat Centre we have a theme for one of our many retreats titled ‘Called by name’. It is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah:
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”(Is 43:1-2)
In this verse we are given the identity of God’s chosen people through the Lord literally calling us by name. If someone uses your name to speak to you it makes you feel important. It creates a personal relationship with that person. By calling us by name, God invites us to have a personal relationship with him.
I know that when someone learns my full name, pronounces it and even spells it correctly, it has always made me feel special and connected to that person. In a similar way, when Mary Magdalene is weeping at the tomb of Jesus, she doesn’t recognise the resurrected Christ until he speaks her name.
Jesus calls us by our names too. Though others may call us different names, or get our names wrong, we have a true identity in Christ who knows us.
There is a lot of beauty behind the meaning of a name too. It can shape our personalities before we even know what our name means. Many of us are named after a famous saint: take the time to look them up! In doing so you could find attributes that you can ask for grace to embody.
Zuzanna has been a member of the Youth Ministry’s Retreat Centre Team since 2022. Get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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