How many times have you heard your name called? How many times a day does it occur? Is it with warmth and love, with urgency, with concern, with anger, with happiness or joy?
For me, there are generally three ways that I hear my name. I hear it when I am being asked to complete a task, I hear it when I am in trouble for something (in a different tone, and usually my full name), and I hear it spoken with love and care.
When I hear my name, at times, I often remember the meaning of my name – David means beloved. It further helps to identify to me, that even if I am in trouble, asked to complete a task, or being offered love and care, I am always beloved by the Holy One.
I note, that in Hebrew, Samuel means ‘God hears,’ and Nathanael means “Gift of God.’ It gets me to surmising that at times both the individuals in the readings for this week may have pondered the meanings of their names when persons called them.
In the stories from Scripture this week, these two individuals hear their names as they are being invited to participate in a larger narrative – the changing of life and of society so that the Holy One can bring hope and healing. It is a big ask for both Samuel and Nathanael. It is not without challenge, and not without the presence of the Holy One in completing the tasks.
In these readings for this Sunday, as we move further into the season of Epiphany, Christian communities are reminded of the reality of our belief, that Jesus calls us each day, by our names, through the voices of others, and through the challenges and joys of society, community and family. The call is for us to assist with the revealing of the Holy One in the world. This revealing is about sharing the light of the things that are about love, about justice, about peace, and about care that we witness all around us. We are called to be lights in the world, like stars shining, revealing the way for persons to travel as we live lives in this world.
The next time you hear your name, be mindful of the meaning of your name. Do not listen only to the intention of the call. Consider how you can live into the meaning of your name, and how you might live into the reality of that which the Holy One is beckoning you.