PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.
Jesus, We belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Romans 16:3–16 (NIV)
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among[d] the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.
Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test.
Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.
Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.
Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I’ll be honest. In my old way of reading the Bible for most of my Bible reading life, I didn’t really read chapters like this. I took what I call the Old Testament “genealogy” approach—I skimmed it—which is another way of saying I skipped it. I mean, beyond being a marvelous authenticator of the historicity of the ancient document, what’s the point of me knowing about people with names like Asyncritus, Phlegm, Philologus, Tryphena, and Tryphosa? (Phlegm? What an unfortunate name!)
And then I think about the little church I now pastor and names like Tricia, Seth, Laura Beth, Thelma, and Drew. Love always has a name. Asyncritus, Phlegm, Philologus, Tryphena, and Tryphosa . . . they are now Tricia, Seth, Laura Beth, Thelma, and Drew. From the first century to the twenty-first century, the nets of our local churches come down to the knots and the names, don’t they? No names—no knots. No knots—no nets.
Now, because there’s a good chance you skipped over the text today, please go back and read it now; and slowly for effect.
Chapter 16 of Romans tells us Paul was good with names; not like a smooth politician but like a person who loved people. Love always has a name. And speaking of names, I’ve got a bone to pick with many of you—those of you who regularly say, “I’m not good with names.” It’s just another way of saying, “Your name does not matter to me,” which is shorthand for, “You really aren’t that important to me.” Why not just say, “I’m bad with people”? Sure, we all forget names, especially of new people we meet. We don’t need more gimmicks to help us remember (though there are worse things). What we need is more love. I’m not particularly good with remembering names either, most of us aren’t, but you will never hear those words come out of my mouth. I learned a saying a long ago from one of my early mentors (whose death preceded my birth):
“A person’s name is to them the sweetest sound in any language.”—Dale Carnegie
Imagine how their faces lit up as they heard their name read aloud by Phoebe (even Phlegm)! Maybe I’m beyond the scope of the text now, but have you noticed how many people wear name tags these days in our everyday working world? From drive-through windows to grocery store workers to call center employees—who always begin by telling you their name? How about we start calling their names, with respect and even affection? Did you notice the word that is used seventeen times in today’s fourteen verses in this sixteenth chapter? It’s greet. How about this? Anytime we see someone with a name tag, let’s greet them by name. It’s one of the little ways of the love of Jesus—making much of other people, celebrating them by speaking their name. What if it’s the first sound of awakening to them?
So how about that! The most seemingly irrelevant and formerly skipped-over chapter in the book turns out to hold the most practical implication and application ever!
Love always has a name.
Abba Father! Thank you for knowing us by name; for knowing me by name. Thank you that my name is written in your book. Would you wake me up to this simple act of love, which does require effort, of knowing and greeting people by name; of risking mistakes with new names, of trying again and again until I get it? And let it not be about me but about them. I want to be better at loving people. With the Holy Spirit helping me, I’m going to get good at names. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
How are you getting better at loving people, at remembering and knowing their names? Will you try the name tag experiment—greeting everyone you see today with a name tag by calling their name? Let me know what happens. And have you ever thought about how much Jesus must love hearing you say his name—especially when you are talking to him?
There is a name I love to hear . . . yes today we will sing the hymn and chorus, “O How I Love Jesus.” It is hymn 153 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Let’s sing it with joy.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt