Lenten Devotional Booklet How Do You Name Him? Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Mechthild of Magdeburg , the thirteenth century mystic (not
to be confused with St. Mechthild of Hacheborne, not that this is
likely) wrote this beautiful paean of praise to our many-named God.
O burning Mountain, O chosen Sun,
O perfect Moon, O fathomless Well,
O unattainable Height, O Clearness beyond measure,
O Wisdom without end, O Mercy without limit,
O Strength beyond resistance, O Crown beyond all majesty,
The humblest thing you created sings your praise. Amen.
God is rightly named by all of these titles and infinitely many more. Each
appellation adds an aspect to our emotional or intellectual understanding while
simultaneously stirring us to desire a wider experience and deeper comprehension of
what and who deity is by whatever name. Conversely, the mightiest of titles are mere
sobriquets when referring to ultimate reality.
Perhaps God is beyond names so as not to be limited by human naming. Could it
be that naming God is akin to making a graven image of God? It is possible we make
our conception of God too small when we refer to God as one thing rather than another.
On the other hand, we must refer to God in some manner in order to consider, seek and
communicate what we have learned to date. Rather than stop naming names, maybe
the most appropriate thing we can do is to acknowledge the God of many names and to
call upon God by the best name we know.
What name then is the loftiest? What name is best? For me, that name is Jesus.
As we are told in Philippians 2:9-11, God gave the name that is above every name, so
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the
earth. It was given in recognition of the grandest humility ever acted out and the
surpassing obedience to which the named adhered.
We could worthily meditate on that all season long and ours would be a well spent
Jesus, help us learn more of your true name today. Amen.
Pastor Dave Alberts
Lenten Devotional Booklet How Do You Name Him? Thursday, February 11, 2016
In Times of Crisis: How do I Name Him?
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86: 3-4
In my work as a counselor, many people came to me in times of crisis. In times of crisis we feel fear, anxiety, hopelessness, hope, agitation, inability to concentrate, the need to do something, loss of focused energy, helplessness, loss of control, restlessness, exhaustion, sleeplessness, or sleepiness, loss of appetite, increased appetite. Normal everyday activities may seem impossible. We forget about taking care of ourselves and yet taking care of ourselves is what enables us to cope and to help others. We may want to talk about it or be unable to talk about it. We may seek help or avoid help. We may not even be aware that there is help. In short, crisis can be a roller coaster time of anguish.
Our family is now going through a time of crisis and joy at the birth of our baby granddaughter. She has some feeding problems due to a traumatic birth and is still in the NICU at 12 days old as I write this. Most of the family feels some or all of the things listed above most of the time. I am calling out to the Lord all the day long for the strength and peace to do what needs to be done, and that I can do and to leave the rest to the Lord. It should be a joyful time and it is; Julia is beautiful and we love her so much and yet fear enters in. O Lord. The Lord is my shepherd. If I can look to Him and follow Him, I will not lose my way in the chaos of crisis. I lift up my soul to Him in prayer and my peace returns. And I must do this many times a day.
Prayer is my work right now, and encouraging our daughter and son-in-law, helping Caroline to pump milk for Julia when I am there and Jason has to be at work, preparing meals for them, running errands, doing laundry and calming my mothers fears with information in phone calls. Visiting Julia in the hospital and talking with her to tell her how glad we are she is here and how much she is loved is important work. Giving space to the in-laws to love and care for the little family as well is something I can do. I can exercise even when I dont feel like it and eat right. (Except for those chocolate covered peanuts)! I can choose not to take on other peoples anxiety or spread my own. The Lord is in control. I am not. He is my refuge and my strength. And the joy of the Lord is my strength! When I lift up my soul to him to praise him as our Lord I am restored to peace and joy.
Prayer: Lord, Jesus, thank you for the gift of baby Julia! Thank you for the progress she is making to come home bit by little bit. Help us to celebrate. Thank you for sustaining us all throughout our struggles. Thank you for being our Lord and for bringing us joy even in the midst of crisis. Amen
Lenten Devotional Booklet How Do You Name Him? Friday, February 12, 2016
Bless Gods glorious name forever, let his glory fill the earth! Psalm 72:19
How do I name God? I suppose to some degree it depends on the situation and the focus of my thinking at a given moment. If I am praising God for the wonders of creation or the vastness of space, I may very well say, Almighty God, Creator and Ruler of the universe I find myself most often saying, Lord in my prayers. E. Stanley Jones, a noted missionary to India and worldwide witness to the gospel came to represent his relationship to God by holding up three fingers and saying, Jesus Is Lord. Since the term Lord has been used to identify persons of many types through history, I some-times use a double address, Lord God. Jesus often referred to God as Father. Some people have trouble with Father because of very negative experiences with a human father. This is not a problem for me. I had a kindly, devout and dedicated Christian father. However, I do not use that designation often in public prayer. Perhaps I am too sensitive to the feelings of a few. For me, Lord seems to address God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The term indicates to me that God is in charge. Jesus often referred to himself in this way. One example is in his description of the judgment of the nations. He has the righteous saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (Matthew 25:37b). He also said, Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21) The words of the hymn keep singing joyfully in my mind: Crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all! Prayer: Gracious God, we know that the many names by which we call you are too few to describe the awesome greatness of your love, patience and timeless outreach in search of fellowship with human kind, but we offer you our thanks and prayers. Amen.
Lenten Devotional Booklet How Do You Name Him? Saturday, February 13, 2016
One of the most comforting and personal passages
of Scripture comes from the first verses of Isaiah 43. God is telling the trampled and downtrodden people of Israel, Do not fear, 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...
You dont have to be literally swept away by flood waters to recognize that Isaiah is telling you that God personally knows you by name. Have you ever heard God call your name? Not audibly but I have definitely felt Gods presence. As a teenager I sensed that all the thoughts that had been tumbling around in my head suddenly fell into place one night at a church camp. I felt as though I were being pushed to walk down that aisle and answer the preachers call. I already knew Christ as my Savior, but this was different. God wanted me to minister in the Kingdom and the nudging of the Spirit toward the altar was Gods way of calling me. For more than 70 years I have lived by that life-changing call.
Names are important in the Bible. We know the name of each of the 12 disciples whom Jesus called. He renamed Simon as the rock, Peter. He called Zacchaeus by name down from his perch in a tree to tell him that he would dine at his table. His friends in Bethany we know were Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And in a most touching account, Mary does not recognize the risen Jesus in the garden until he calls her name.
God goes by many names in Holy Scripture, but the one fact indisputable is that this God-of-many-names knows who you are. When losing a child, when abandoned by a loved one, when threatened in a career, when facing a grave illness, when things did not seem to be going my wayGod knew my name and was with me. And when I laughed and sang in the happy moments of love with family and friends and good health, God was there, tooand still is!
Dear Readers, havent you found this to be true in your experiences? Easter confirms that God so loved us, this world, that no waters can finally sweep us away. Go