Who are you? That’s a question that frequently pops into our minds. For those of us who are members of the Church, it pops into our minds before, during, and after worship and at other gatherings.
Of course, who you are is more than your name, but your name is a starting point. Once I know your name, I begin to associate other aspects of your identity with it – what you look like, what you do, where you live, to whom you are related, and many other characteristics that make you YOU. The unique, one-of-a-kind, never before, never again YOU. When I hear your name, I recall lots of information about you and my relationship with you. Names are little bridges we cross over in relationships one with another.
The Prophet Isaiah recorded God’s word to God’s own specific, chosen people:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1a)
Expectant parents take pains to select the names of their children. Before we are born, we have a name. Throughout our lives, those names will be recognized and recorded by others.
At our Baptism, our name is called, signifying that God knows us. In fact, the liturgy used to direct the Priest to say to the parents and sponsors, “Name this child.”
As we mature, we learn that having our name attached to something can be something very good or something very bad.
The other evening on the news, veteran journalist and native Houstonian Dan Rather was being interviewed about the devastation caused in his hometown by Hurricane Harvey. As he spoke of Houston’s Mayor and Police Chief, he made sure to refer to them as “Mayor Turner” and “Chief Acevedo” because he knows that names are important.
When we say we know our neighbors, we mean that, among other things, we know their names.
When we send a letter, a sympathy note, or a thank you note, we address the recipient by name.
Names are important!
So, in order to foster community and build relationships at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, we need to take care to learn one another’s names. This is important at all times but will be especially important when you welcome newcomers and when your new Dean arrives.
To that end, I am asking that we wear name tags when we are together at the Cathedral, whether for worship, study, fellowship, or service. If you have a permanent name tag and can remember to wear it, that’s great. But, if you are like me, those permanent name tags are often in the jacket I didn’t wear to church.
So, we’re going to provide plain paper name tags and bold sharpie pens at the entrance to each gathering place so you will always have a name tag.
Who are you? If you’ll wear a name tag, it won’t be long before I know the answer to that question and so will others.
I’ll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ron Pogue
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral