Jennifer Lindberg explains a hope-filled family tradition of choosing one of God’s names during the Advent or Christmas season.
I have some name-calling to do this season, but not the type of name calling going around today in secular culture. The names I’m thinking of slinging around are sweet endearments to strengthen our trust in God’s goodness. It’s a simple fact: to really know someone, you need to know their name.
Choosing one of God’s names to focus on over the Advent and Christmas liturgical seasons is a family tradition in my home.
- Shepherd healer who protects us
- Wood cutter placed on a tree with wounds carved in His side by a lance opening graces to us.
- Gift sender: both human and divine because Christ’s sacrifice burned me into the palm of His Father’s hands, forever saved, and forever loved.
- Echo maker: because Christ’s life echoes through the centuries.
Even if we are bruised on the Vine of Life we are still gathered in love. If sin has made us break, has caused strife, and anguish, Christ grafts us back in as the repentant prodigal son or daughter who now mends their ways.
Choosing one of God’s names to know better this year is also an antidote to call upon when family gatherings get stressful. There’s a lot of questions and what-ifs in this pandemic season, not to mention family dynamics. If strife or hurts tempt you to give vent to name calling, just don’t. Instead, grasp the names that will fill your soul to the brim with hope instead of despair, faith instead of fear, and love instead of strife. God is Immensity, as Baruch 3:24 tells us.
Speak words of grace over the “nosy” aunt, the” critical” sister, or the “gruff” neighbor because Scripture always gets it right:
I have laid up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (Psalms 119:11)
I think words matter because God has names and is called the Word made Flesh. The man-God who gathers you to His heart because with Jesus you are always wanted, needed, and consoled.
You’ve heard it before. Eucharist means Thanksgiving in Greek. Our Eucharist is His body and blood of the bread and the wine, of the Real Presence. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Thankful gets “worded” up this time of year first at Thanksgiving and then at Christmas. We see ads about being grateful for our gifts, what we have, and how to give more. But what if the real secret of gratefulness is just in a name? A name that gets a sheep to follow a shepherd, a name that heals, delivers, imparts abundance and everlasting life! A name that can make mountains shake and hills fall to the ground and a name that has compassion on you?
In this season of giving and gratefulness, I will bring out my Good Shepherd as the Infant we are waiting for this Christmas. Around him are names we will pick to pray about and wonder about and try to live this Advent. It is our tradition of thanksgiving.
We will ask Him to make that gift alive in us, this name of His to help us know Him better, to strengthen our personal relationship with Him. To know someone is to know their name. I want to know God’s names to place in my heart, to whisper His names in the dark to shine the light, to know Him better, to love Him better, and to serve Him better.
There’s too much other name-calling out there right now. Here is the antidote: Download and print these free place cards to start your own tradition of Divine Name Calling.
Copyright 2020 Jennifer Lindberg
Image copyright 2020 Jennifer Lindberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Author of "It's Three O'clock Somewhere," and award-winning journalist Jennifer Lindberg went from photographing Cindy Crawford on the red carpet to picking up toys and crumbs off her carpets at home. Six kids later, homeschooling eclectic, and divine mercy devotee, her carpet duties have lessened allowing her to write about hope, mercy, pilgrimage travel, and true self-care at Thinking From Hope or Instagram at @ThinkingFromHope.