Living Into a Name

by the Rev. Paul McLain


One of the most exciting things about the birth of a child is giving the newborn baby a name. January 1st is not only the start of a new calendar year. It is the Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord. It is a holy day in which we remember that a week after his birth, Mary and Joseph’s newborn baby was formally given the name Jesus, the name given to his parents for him by the angel. Jesus means “God saves” or “God delivers.” This act of naming gives meaning and purpose to his birth. I believe his name not only refers to salvation and deliverance in the afterlife but salvation and deliverance in the here and now. We desperately need and long for this salvation and deliverance as we enter our third year of COVID.


Making New Year’s resolutions or setting goals for 2022 is to name the intentions that God is birthing within us. Writing your goals for the year in a journal is a way of writing a “birth certificate” for these goals and naming them by recording them in a book that you review throughout the year. Possible goals this year include stretching yourself in new ways along with slowing down to see, appreciate, and share with others the work and splendor of God’s ongoing creation. A goal might be to seek to live and listen in the “now.”


Names in the Bible often have meaning that gives insight into how God works in that person’s life. For example, the followers of Jesus recognized the gifts of a man named Joseph and renamed him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas lived into the meaning of his name by being a mentor to and standing up for Saul, who himself was renamed the apostle Paul. One goal that we might set for 2022 is to be more like Barnabas, looking for ways to encourage others to see, develop, and exercise their spiritual gifts. Those are ways we can live more fully into Jesus’s name, joining Jesus to bring salvation and deliverance to one another.


In 2022, what name are you called to live into? And what name are we called to live into?


Happy New Year!

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