the spir­i­tual di­rec­tor

But now, this is what the Lord says - he who cre­ated you, O Ja­cob, he who for med you O Is­rael: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have sum­moned you by name, you are mine,’ Isa­iah 43:1

The Church of England - - Sunday - By the Rev Dr Liz Hoare

I have been vis­it­ing some folk who keep pigs. When the time comes the pigs ar e sent off to a lo­cal abat­toir to be slaugh­tered and that evening sausages fr om the most r ecent batch wer e ser ved up for sup­per . ‘So who was this one?’ some­one joked as they spear ed a sausage. ‘ We don’t give them names’, came back the re­sponse. ‘That way we don’t get at­tached to them.’ As some­one who keeps chick­ens I know what they mean. All my hens have names and ther e is no way that Emily is go­ing to end up on the menu.

Names are im­por­tant. We spend hours choos­ing names for our chil­dren, our pets, even inan­i­mate ob­jects like cars. Names are deeply per­sonal and they pro­vide iden­tity. Some of us may not like our names ver y much and may have changed them to one that seems to res­onate or iden­tify us mor e truth­fully or in keep­ing with our per­son­al­i­ties. The per­son who con­veys the name is usu­ally some­one sig­nif­i­cant. In the case of a par ent the nam­ing of a child is a sign of the re­la­tion­ship with him or her. To ne­glect to give a child a name is to ren­der that child a no­body, not worth notic­ing.

The prophet Isa­iah is bring­ing a word of hope to his people who ar e un­der judge­ment and feel­ing far from God. Isa­iah re­minds his people that God is nev­er­the­less pas­sion­ately in­volved with his people. Af­ter all he cr eated them. He has not given them up but has redeemed them. They need not be afraid.

Imag­ine a child lost in the dark, alone and fright­ened. What does that child want to hear more than any­thing? Surely it is a lov­ing par­ent call­ing them by name. When they hear their name called by the one who loves them more than any­one else, what re­lief, what re­as­sur­ance and hope will leap in their hearts. Some­one has come to look for them, some­one who loves them and is on their side, some­one who will not rest till they are safe in their arms once again.

This is the God who has com­mit­ted him­self to Is­rael and to us. ‘Fear not,’ he says to his people, ‘I have called you by name; you ar e mine.’ As chil­dren of the same lov­ing heav­enly fa­ther , we too are be­ing in­vited to hear God call us by name and know that we are his. We are to be sure that we are pre­cious in his sight, we mat­ter, we are not name­less in­di­vid­u­als who are dis­pens­able or just one of a crowd.

Re­cently the Angli­can lec­tionary fo­cused on Je­sus the good shepherd. ‘He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out,’ (John 10:3b). This same good shepherd goes out to look for the lost sheep and ul­ti­mately lays down his life for them. This is the first foun­da­tion for our spir­i­tual life.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.