Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Justice Devotional - The Problem with Names

Devotion to Justice
A series of devotions from the Justice table on the topics of
  • Women and children
  • Hunger and poverty
  • Creation care
  • Immigration
The Problem with Names
Revelation 21:22-27

Life as a refugee is a hard life. There is the indignity of losing one's home. And then add to that the displacing of an entire family, a resettling in a land with different language and different customs and different expectations. Whatever you were in the prior land — a doctor, a teacher, a farmer — very likely bears no relationship on what you are allowed to do in the new place. On top of all this, there is the problem with names.

Many refugees lose their given names when they leave their home and settle in a new place. A few families in our congregation lost their last names when they traveled to Cambodia to a refugee camp. Men were given the initial Y as a last name and women were given a letter H. The US Government had drawn up paperwork to correspond to the legal names Cambodia had given people when they resettled. In a great irony, the process of becoming an American Citizen allows refugees to reclaim those lost names, that lost heritage. By becoming American, they are allowed (finally!) to be called by their names.

Our Lord knows us beyond the names and the labels we wear. Our Lord prepares a place for the faithful even if no other place in the world provides them a welcome. Our Lord finds a way. And with the Lamb, with Jesus the Christ, we are known deeply and completely. With the Lamb, we are home.

Personal experience and panic prompted some of our teenagers to ask a Bible Study teacher about the scripture where the Lamb's book has everyone's name. "How will we know if we're welcome in the new Jerusalem? How will we know if Jesus calls us? Which name will the Lamb use?" The answer the teacher gave was the only answer that mattered. "You'll just know."

Rev. Jolin Wilks McElroy: Pastor First Christian Church, Charlotte, NC Immigration and Refugees.

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