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04 Lent 01 First Wednesday in Lent

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This season of Lent is a time to empty ourselves, so that God can fill us up again.  It is a time to let go, get rid of, and to allow those things in us that need to be taken, removed, gotten rid of, and to do just that.  Not so that we can be left empty, but so that we can be full of the love, mercy and hope that our God pours out into our lives.  We do that by looking at the Lord’s Prayer, and using this time for prayer and reflection.

Names are important.  Names are special.  They have meaning behind them and connections.  For example, if you want to get Emily really upset, try and tell her that her last name is Ransdell.  “I’m not Ransdell,” she says to me, “David is Ransdell.  I’m Emily Erbecca. David is Ransdell.”  I was a bit perplexed, she isn’t old enough to feel angst about our family name.  Then it occurred to me the only time that she hears that name.  “David Norman Ransdell you stop that this instant.  David Norman Ransdell, what are you doing?  David Norman Ransdell, be nice to your sister.”  For her, hearing that name meant that you were in trouble.

Each of us has different names as well.  We have nicknames and titles.  We have  impressions and even labels that people put on us, or that sometimes unfortunately we put on others.  And these things become part of our identity, they affect how we see the world and how we see ourselves.    Some of these names we are proud of.  Others we wish we did not have.  Regardless, they have an impact on our lives.  However, it is important to realize that these names, whether they are good or bad, whether we have earned them through years of hard work, or they have been unfairly placed upon us, it is important to realize that these names do not give to us our value and worth. 

The best names and titles that we have, do not earn for us more value and worth.  The worse labels that have been placed upon us, do not lessen our value and worth.  And even though we are all sinful human beings, who fall short of the perfect life that God requires.  And even though there is nothing in us or nothing that we do that would make God love us, he found in us, in spite of our sin, in spite of ourselves, he found in you and me value.  A great value.  That value did not, and does not come from anything in us, or from anything that we are able to contribute, rather that value comes from the love that our God has for us.

Listen to Paul’s words about Jesus in the second chapter of Philippians, “Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.   Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance.   He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross.  This is why God has given him an exceptional honor—the name honored above all other names— so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

                The name that is above all names is the name of God.  He is the creator of the universe, he is the one who is, who was and who is to come.  He is just, and holy, and full of mercy.  He is faithful and loving.  And though he is worthy of awe and fear.  Though we should tremble before his awesome presence.  He instead reveals himself to us as Father.  For some this can be a difficult image.  But what this is, is God’s loving relationship with us.  Where earthly fathers have failed, he, our father in heaven does not.  We are not merely his subjects who worship him impersonally, but instead we are his own dear sons and daughters.

                Our Father in heaven, does not mean that he is distant and far away, but rather that he is powerful enough to hear and does indeed answer our prayers.  His name is holy without need of anything from us, but his name being holy among us means that we live and interact with one another in spite of titles and names and labels, because we are loved and valued by our God.  It means that we who bear his name, live and interact with one another in a way that honors that name and glorifies it.  And so we pray that that would happen in our midst.

                God’s name is holy, because God is God.  But it is especially holy for us and in our lives, because his name means for you and me, live, wholeness, purpose, and value.  All these things we have for the sake of our Lord Jesus .

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