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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Life Sentence

“ many cultures, the act of naming is regarded as a very, very powerful thing...naming represents a celebration of becoming aware, of knowing the universe at a different level than we had known before.” - Dr.James Gates, Jr., On Being interview with Krista Tippett

"The simple act of naming shifts the lives of Abram and Sarai from local to universal, from human to divine."    - from "God Carriers", sermon 03-04-12

The biblical story in which God changes the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah is not only a story of ancestry and progeny but also a story of awakening. Their consciousness is broadened beyond the confines of immediate family and circumstances as they are invited to imagine themselves procreating and participating with the Creator in creating a new world. Being told that they will be father and mother to “many nations” is a reminder to them and to us that within each human being is endless potential and possibility.

Who among us doesn’t get bogged down with and consumed by the particularities of daily living?  Is there anyone who never feels burdens, pressures and expectations associated with family, school, work, and even play?   Of course not, and therein lies the dilemma. 

Too often we perceive the confines of life as forces and dynamics outside ourselves and beyond our influence.  We see life as something happening to us instead of something in which we participate and play an important role.  Our life’s sentence has us as the object instead of the subject.

It is significant that God doesn’t change the world around Abram and Sarai.  God changes them.  With a slight alteration of name, they are liberated to see themselves differently and become, with God, co-creators of the future. God gives them a new life sentence.

That’s all it takes - a new name that is not so different in appearance but ever so different in meaning.  It is amazing how the world around us changes with only a slight change in perspective.  

So why not try it?  Take on a new name.  If you can’t readily think of one why not try one Desmond Tutu suggests: "God Carrier." Imagine yourself, and others, as a vessel of the Image of God and see how differently you see the world around you.  Become the subject of your life instead of the object.

Let me know how it turns out.

1 comment:

  1. That's cool. I hadn't thought about the Abraham and Sarah story in those ways before. But I've really experienced the act of "declaring myself" to be who I am!
    For me, it was in September 2001, the weekend after 9/11, but unrelated to that event. I was at a powerful course called the Advanced Course, which removed layers of barnacles--things about myself I was clinging to. Out of that, I created myself as JOYFUL SERVICE. That's been with me ever since, liberating me to feel free and joyful as I give-- to take off all the layers of "story" that had me putting the brake on myself. Thanks for asking.