The apostles continued to do the miraculous work of Jesus, such as we hear in our lesson today from the Acts of the Apostles: the man, born lame, who has now been miraculously healed. There is a touchstone that the apostles used to effect the healing: Jesus’ name. So we read, the apostles had “faith in [Jesus’] name,” and “[Jesus’] name itself made the man strong.” There is power in a name.
In the scriptures, especially in the Psalms, there is a frequent reverencing of the Name of God. In the Psalm appointed for today, Psalm 8, we hear, “O Lord our Governor, how exalted is your Name in all the world!” In Psalm 31 we hear, “For the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.” Psalm 145 begins: “I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your Name for ever and ever.” It’s a curious phrase – to bless God’s Name or to praise God’s Name or to petition God, for the sake of God’s Name. How dare we have such intimate access to God as to lay claim on God’s Name? So great and awesome was this God that God’s ways were unknowable, God’s power unpredictable, God’s distance unfathomable, God’s rage uncontrollable, God’s face unseeable, God’s hands untouchable, God’s Name, unspeakable. And then we are given a name for God, a name we are invited to use: Jesus. Jesus even tells us he has access to this God whom he calls abba, “papa.” What’s so remarkable is the inverse is also true. Jesus knows us by name. He calls himself the Good Shepherd.” He knows his sheep, and he calls them by name, that’s our own, personal name.1
Knowing someone’s name, and being know to someone by name is an intimate, powerful experience. Having someone’s name, using someone’s name is a point of access, and – in the case of Jesus’ name – a channel of power. We’ve been told as much by Jesus. He invites us to claim and use his name. Use Jesus’ name during those endless moments in life when you are waiting, or wondering, or worrying. Use Jesus’ name when some need presents itself to you, where you find yourself powerless. Use Jesus’ name. You might even find it inviting to pray the ancient “Jesus Prayer” as you breathe:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the Living God:
Have mercy upon me.2
This is to take full advantage of the access, and intimacy, and power that having someone’s name gives us. We have Jesus’ name. Breathe the name of Jesus as you make your way through the day. Breathe the name of Jesus for yourself and for others. Jesus will live up to his name for you. Breathe the name, use the name “Jesus,” because there is power and identification in claiming and using and sharing a name. Go ahead and use it: the name of Jesus: Jesus… Jesus… Jesus…..
2 The Jesus Prayer, noted in The Way of the Pilgrim, dating from the 1850s in Irkutsk, Russia: “…The continuous interior Prayer of Jesus is a constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine Name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart; while forming a mental picture of his constant presence, and imploring his grace, during every occupation, at all times, in all places, even during sleep. The appeal is couched in these terms: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’”
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