Monday, August 22

Sermon, Sunday August 20, 2005

Exodus 1:8-2:10
Psalm 124
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20


Breath of Christ's loving,
Holy Spirit,
within each person you sow faith,
faith which can only be
a very simple trust,
so simple that
everyone can receive it.

Known or unnkown,in our darkness
you kindle a fire
which never dies away.

So, as many of you know, I play in a folk band named "One of the Girls." It is a lot of fun. I enjoy playing with those three guys.

Not surprisingly, at every gig that we play, someone will ask how we got our name. There on stage stand four men calling themselves "One of the Girls." Not a single woman stands among them. This apparent misnomer does not escape people's attention.

It would seem that names can be descriptive. So, when there is an apparent disconnection between the name and the named, people ask questions.



"There are no girls. How can you be 'One of the Girls'?"
So, of course, these people want to know the story. It seems to be an instinct of sorts to want to dig deeper to uncover the connection between the name of the band and the four of us in the band...there should be a connection (a logic?) between the named and the name.

And, as is sometimes the case, the story does not live up to the hype...if there is all that much hype to begin with! This story is no different.

Tom, our lead singer, was in a show with Trish. Somehow the women in that particular production with Tom felt as if he was one of them. Sometimes they would be sharing stories with one another, perhaps speaking of boyfriends or other things they might normally hesitate to discuss in the presense of a man. So, there they would sit and talk...and then all of a sudden someone would realize that Tom was still in the room with them. "It's okay." They would say, "Tom is one of the girls!"

I cannt remember why Trish shared this with me. I think we were standing in our kitchen speaking of Tom - we both have a great affection for him - perhaps we were discussing the idea of putting together a small ensemble for St. Patrick's Day that year. Whatever the context, the descriptive phrase "one of the girls" was used in reference to Tom. And, according to Trish, Tom reminds her a little of me. It seems, I too am one of the girls.

Sean, our guitarist, is one of the girsl but in a different way. He has three older sisters. This reality of birth order suggests all kinds of possibilities in understanding who Sean is as a person and it is a different way of being one of the girls. But Sean is, no less than Tom and I, one of the girls.

Roger our bassist is certainly in th eband. He is devoted and encouraging...and in that way, by association, he has become one of the girls. But he is still trying to discover what it means to him. He is not always so ready to claim his status as the others of us seem to be. But his gradual discovery is slowly changing how the rest of us understand what it means to be one of the girls.

And that is the story. Like I said, it may not live up to the hype...but there is a story and an connection.

Another story about naming I like is the one about how Trish and I ended up keeping our given names after we were married to one another. It is not so much a story as it is an explanation, really, but I am partial.

Every week or so, Trish and I receive mail addressed to Mr and Mrs Hudgins. The name suggests all manner of interpretation: adherence to social conventions, a possible patriarchy, "right" Christian practice...But the reality for Trish and me is a little different...a little untraditional. Tirsh kept he birth name.She did this for several reasons...her middle name is the same as her father's. She is an actor. She has a professional stake in her name. And, to be honest, she likes her name. It holds a sense of history and who she is. Chaning her name to mine might actually be inauthentic to who she is.

We did consider, if only briefly, changing my name. But there again is personal history. I am George III...named fro my father who is named for his...being the third is what leads to my having the nickname "Tripp!" Changing my name creates all kinds of challenges. This, of course, says nothing about how certain members of my family felt about my changing my name. So, we keep what we have and find other creative ways of sharing who we are with one another.

Through our names, something of us is shared.
Through our names, something of us is revealed.
We can come to know the meaning of the name.
We can come to know the person named.
Perhaps we can come to know the one who names...a story or parent, a friend or community...and in come cases it is the One Who Names, God, whom we come to know.

In our gospel lesson this week, our friend Simon, son of Jonah (an interesting name for a fisherman), discivers first hand the tremendous power and responsibility that comes with a name.

"Who do people say that I am?"

John the Baptist is a good name...a tough one to live into.
Elijah is a very powerful name.
Jeremiah...also full of meaning and history.
Even simply being ranked as "one of the prophets" is no small matter.

But our friend Simon, son of Jonah speaks up, "The Messiah, Son of the living God."
Through Simon, God names Jesus. God reveals to Simon the truth about his Son...the person who Jesus is.

And in return, Jesus, who is God, reveals Simon's own name to him.
Simon. Son of Jonah. Your name is Peter, the rock...and them meaning of this name is revealed, God's purpose for Peter is revealed...and Simon is given purpose and incredible responsibility.

This week we learned of the death of Brother Roger of Taize. He is one of my heroes, one of the Christians who, even at a great geogrophical distance, has shaped who I am...he helped me articulate my call to contemplation...to ecumenical worship...my call to ecumenism itself and the work we do here at Reconciler.

Brother Roger of Taize is a name that has many meanings for me: peace, contemplation. Reconciliation, communion among all, courage, healing, hope...

For me, his is a name that allows for the protestant to stand beside the Catholic and Orthodox in worship, prayer and even communion. To me his ministry expressed the truth of the church in unity with itself as our brother Paul wrote to the Romans.

Brother Roger has another name: Shultz. He is a Reformed Christian from Switzerland. In 1940, he came to a little villiage in France named Taize. It was a bombed out wreck. But there he decided to work for peace. He took care of refugees from the war especially the Jews who were fleeing the Nazis. Taize is a name that may very well mean "refuge."

In 1949...there were seven protestant monastics.
In 1970...the first Council of Youth was held. Forty thousand youth came to pray and worship and to appeal to the nations for peace. The name, Taize, and Brother Roger came to mean a great deal to many. Even as much as Roger spoke of the community and not himself, of the Church and Jesus and not Taize, still these names carry great meaning and hope. Listen to this description of the vocation of Taize...
Taize's vocation is to strive for communion among all. From its beginings, the community has worked for reconciliation among Christians split apart into different denominations. But the brothers do not view reconciliation among Christians as the end in itself: it concerns all of himanity, since it makes the Church a place of communion for all. - p. iv Music for Taize

As God worked through this place....
As God worked through this community...
As God worked through an ecumenical monk, new names have been given, older named renewed.

Through the reconciling work of the Holy Trinity, all have a new name - even the troubled woman who has been nameless in the media has a name given to her by God...a new name, a renewed name...May God, the One Who Names, bless our naming, and bless those we name.

Let us pray.
O Risen Christ, you go down
to the lowest depths
of our human condition,
and you burden yourself
with what burdens us.
Still more, you even go
to visit those who have died
without being able to know
you.

And even when within us
we can hear no refrain
of your presence,
you are there.
Through your Holy Spirit
you remain with us.

Amen.

Hymns:
I Need Thee every Hour
All Hail the Power
The Church's One Foundation
Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty