43:5 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth–everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7
A year and a half ago, overcoming breast cancer consumed me. Though the tumor was discovered early – its aggressiveness meant undergoing chemotherapy in addition to surgery and radiation. Recalling the ordeal and how sick one can get during treatment, the passage from Isaiah 43’s theme of exiles came to mind, “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold…”
How I longed to be released from the exile of illness and returned to the land of the living.
Throughout scripture, the Sovereign’s mandate bodes with nothing less than the full emancipation of God’s people. Nor are God’s people summoned out of darkness nameless. To be called by Jahweh’s name jettisons us out of categories long claimed by mortals. Whatever our life’s circumstances, we were created for the Sovereign’s glory.
When a child is to be baptized, the officiant standing before the parents, asks, “What is the Christian name of this child?”
Note that the officiant doesn’t ask merely for the child’s name – be it Marie, Benjamin, Cynthia, or Andrew. Whatever name is to be given to the child, it is not just prefaced but profoundly altered by the addition of the word, Christian. Looking at its Greek equivalent, the name, Christian or Christianos, literally means “a follower of Christ.”
You and I belong to God-in-Christ. No matter how long or brief our lifespan, the losses we’ve suffered, the deep-seated regrets we’ve shouldered, the assaults incurred, and the failures endured, the marvelous mystery is this: you and I remain faithfully known and irrevocably claimed by God.
And this is Good News…
2 thoughts on “Called by name: a recollection of baptism”
Thank you not just for this reflection on Christian name but the connection of cancer to exile to baptism to home.
You are welcome, Maren. Frankly, it is unlikely I would have made that connection – save for what the experience taught me.