I have called you by your name, you are min



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T.P. Drainey Page 02/06/16


I have called you by your name, you are mine.1


The naming of cats is a difficult matter,

It isn’t just one of your holiday games;

You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter

When I tell you, a cat must have three different names.

First of all there’s the name that the family use daily,

Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,

Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey –

all of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,

Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:

Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter –

But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,

A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,

Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,

Or spread out his whiskers or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind I can give you a quorum,

Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo or Coricopat,

Such as Bombalurina or Jellylorum –

Names that never belong to more than one cat.


But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,

And that is the name that you never will guess;

The name that no human research can discover –

But the cat himself knows, and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,

The reason I tell you is always the same:

His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation

Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:

His ineffable, effable,

Effanineffable



Deep and inscrutable singular name.2
So what’s in a name? Let me give you a quick run through as to what McKenzie’s Dictionary of the Bible has to say, and I quote:
“It is a widespread cultural phenomenon that the name is considered to be more than an artificial tag which distinguishes one person from another. The name has a mysterious identity with its bearer; it can be considered as a substitute for the person, as acting or receiving in his place. The name is often meaningful; it not only distinguishes the person, but it is thought to tell something of the kind of person he is. In magic rites the name is extremely important: Knowledge of the name gives control, and utterance of the name is effective either upon its bearer or as containing the power of the person whose name is uttered. Vestiges of such beliefs survive even in civilised societies when they retain ancient customs which surround the conferring of the name with solemnity. Many of these beliefs occur in the Bible, and where the name of the deity is concerned the conception of the name becomes a theological idea.”
So what’s in a name? It is not only cats that have many names, so do we, and many personae to go with them – many masks (that is the real meaning of persona – the mask that an actor wore in Greek and Roman theatre). And then there are nick-names. Nick names? I don’t really know whether or not I like them. But I suppose we all have nick-names for each other. Some of them are complimentary and self-explanatory, others are a little more abstruse and perhaps down-right rude. I might have my own nick-names for many people I meet in the diocese – I might. And I wouldn’t be surprised if others have nick-names for me. The trouble with nick-names is that they over-simplify and generalise and try to fit people into little boxes which in the end they can’t fit into.
When I was at school, I had a nick-name. I didn’t really like it, in fact I hated it. The persona of my nick-name had a particular character, a particular way of acting and doing things. People had expectations of it. The terrible thing was I began to grow into all those things. I am not sure whether my nick-name described the person I was or whether I grew into the persona of it. It was like being in prison in my own personality, and at the age of 14 or 15, it was really traumatic. I could feel myself being moulded into something, someone that I was not and did not want to be. It was like forcing a square peg into a round hole.
After ordination, I made a fresh start. No-one knew me in the new parish, and it was a long way from where I originated. I was an unknown quantity – I liked that, no-one could label me. However, I was very young, and my lack of years was even more evident because my parish priest was an old man. So everyone thought that they had got a nice young curate, and everything that goes with that. I was expected to be very trendy, very liberal, terribly easy-going and especially terribly good with the youth. No matter what I said, it made no difference, this was how people had decided I was, and they would not take no for an answer
There was a Youth Club in the Town, and the Churches had taken quite a leading role in running it. I was the youngest clergyman in the Town by about 50 years, and so it fell to me – that nice young priest who loves working with the youth to take over the running of the place three nights a week. To say I hated it was an understatement. It was there, that I got my next nick-name. Oh how I detested it! Once more, by the power of the name I was being transmogrified. I was imprisoned by it, and was being forced to live a false existence – it brought with it frustration, anger, panic and terrible insecurity.
It was at this time that I had rediscovered something that had kept me going through a bad patch in my late teens. I had been reading my Bible one day and up popped a piece of scripture that hit me in the face, and as soon as I read it I knew it was for me – it had been written with just me in mind:
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8.31-39)
Unlike my nick-name, the sound of these words brought me real peace, joy, hope and courage which I knew I personally lacked. I knew that all these things came from a source outside myself, and I was being offered them freely and with no strings attached.
Another phrase, too, came back, very closely connected with this one. As a teenager I had felt very insecure and lacked confidence in so many ways. The same was true of my time in seminary at the Colegio Real in Valladolid Spain. There seemed to be so many things I had to face for which I did not have the courage, skill nor desire. So many things held fear for me: the University, speaking Spanish, having to mix with other students, study, exams, house jobs – they made me choir-master and all I could do was play the recorder. The guy before me had played in the National Youth Orchestra and the one before him was a member of the Royal College of Organists. They were both still in the College and here I was, just about proficient on a tin whistle!
What was the other piece of Scripture?
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The 
Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?


Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
    yet I will be confident.


One thing I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the 
Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the 
Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.


11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they are breathing out violence.


13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the 
Lord!

(Psalm 27)

When I heard this and knew it to be true, - by sheer intuition and perhaps desperation, - I could fumble my way through most things, and more than fumble, I could approach life with confidence. Thanks be to God!
When you hear other people’s nick-names they can be a great source of laughter and mirth. In Kenya, where I lived for six years they had names for everyone. My name was Omondi – the one who was always there early in the morning. But it has other connotations as well – one who could not stay in bed because he wanted desperately to know what was going on no matter what time of the day or night!
The people with whom I lived and worked in Kenya also believed that you had a mystical name, a name that only God knew, and that is how he called you into existence and that is how he will call you back to him at the end of your days. No-one else knows this name, if they did they could have complete power over you. There were lots of folk-stories about the demons trying to trick God into revealing people’s names so that they could control them.
I think they are right, I also believe that we have a mystical name that is known only to God. God speaks my name and I am; I exist. It is a name which expresses exactly who I am and what I am about.
Those phrases that I shared with you - :
With God on our side who can be against us?

Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ…

And


The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the fortress of my life, of whom should I be afraid?
have brought about great transformation, great moments of conversion and intimacy in my life. They are probably the most important things that I have ever heard so far. Without having heard them, I would not be here, I don’t think. They are all to do with the way God calls my name. And somewhere in all this is my real name, the name by which God knows me and loves me. Somewhere in all that is the real me that I am still discovering. To you it may not sound very much, but somewhere in all that is the real definition of me.
If we were to look at the life of Jesus in these terms, perhaps there is one phrase which sums up everything that Jesus is and was called to be – Abba.3 I know that we too say Abba, but when Jesus says Abba, it is something very personal and absolutely unique. None of us can say that word in the same way as Jesus, For him it has singular meaning, it is the basis of his very existence and mission. And in a less dramatic yet similar way those scripture phrases of mine are unique to me and have singular meaning for me and sum up also the very basis of my existence and mission.
Without putting too fine a point on it, I think, I believe that mixed in with those words is my being called into existence. At the moment God created me and called me by name, those words became part and parcel of my being too, or at least through these words my spirit is able to recall and recognise my first being called by God.
Objectively speaking, no call comes from God to anyone except in the person of Christ Jesus; and no-one makes a response to God except in the person of Christ Jesus. And so this calling me into being, speaking my name and my first moments of existence can only be in Christ Jesus.
This knowledge is not just important for me; rather, without it I am lost, I am adrift in chaos. This calling issued to me at my creation and baptism and confirmation is the basis of everything else. It is this calling which gives life and spirit to all my other callings. It is a calling in the order of being. This calling is not summoning me to “do” something, rather it is calling me into being, and it is from my “being” that my “doing flows” and not vice-versa. If I did not really understand this and try to live it out, then God knows how I would find any real meaning in my life!
You see, I think everyone of us has a mystical name, one by which God calls us. Well, that’s not new, is it? Didn’t I quote from McKenzie’s Dictionary at the beginning that most primitive peoples believed this? Yes, I did. But the thing that I also believe is that God wants you and me to know this name, and he is always trying to reveal it to us in prayer, and especially when we read the scriptures. I am sure that it is not just me, but when we read the scriptures, phrases leap off the page and speak to our heart. They say things to us which go beyond the actual meaning of the words on the paper. They say things to us so deep that we cannot really explain them to other people. They say things to us that make us realise that God knows us as we really are, and in him we can truly begin the pilgrimage of knowing ourselves.
If you already know your name, that is the name by which God calls you, guard it keep it close to you, repeat it frequently, because it is the key to the present and the future. In the light of this knowledge you can live out present storms and crises in peace and equilibrium. With this knowledge you can face all the fears and apprehensions that the future might hold. With this knowledge you can do whatever is asked of you, you can cope with any situation because deep down in the very core of your being you know who you are, for God has told you by calling your name.
Everything in your life will flow from this, will be permeated by it, whatever vocation comes next, it will be inspired and directed by your original vocation, your first calling, the moment when God called you by your name.
Let me read again the two passages the two passages in and through which I think God is calling me by my name. Somewhere in all this is the real me. I hope you have understood what I have been trying to say. And I am sorry if you have not fully been with me this evening. But take from it that you will know your name if you listen to the Lord speaking to you in prayer and in the Scriptures.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The 
Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?


Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
    yet I will be confident.


One thing I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the 
Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the 
Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.


13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the 
Lord!

(Psalm 27)


If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8.31-39)


1 Is 43.1

2 Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats by TS Elliot.

3 cf. John 5-10, Luke 10.21; 22.39


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