Names are important in life. They signify who we are and what people expect of us. Marketors’ Chaplain Canon Dr Alison Joyce in her sermon on Sunday 28 February revealed that she was known by three different names. The most usual was “Alison”, which Marketors would know her by. However to her family she had a different pet name and her friends at uni called her something else again!
Each name was only used amongst that peer group and they wouldn’t dream of adopting one of her other names unless Alison gave them permission – it would dishonour her.
The Bible adopts changes in people’s names to denote a change of status or significance. In Genesis, Abram became Abraham (meaning Father of a multitude) and of course Saul became Paul when he adopted Christianity. When Simon recognised Christ as the Messiah, he became Peter.
Do we all then have a new God-given true name waiting for us when we meet Him? In discovering the true extent of God’s love and grace we should deny our current identity, Alison suggests, becoming vulnerable. Then love will make us welcome.
In explanation, she asks us to read Love III, a poem by Anglican Priest George Herbert, whose memorial day was 27 February.