After Words: #3
What Jesus Taught After The Resurrection
Since this is Confirmation Sunday I wanted to do something just a little different so I asked Owen to sing that song to open the sermon. Did you listen to the words? Especially those in the chorus?
“He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call.”
That’s what Mary Magdalene experienced when she went to the tomb on Easter Sunday. She was filled with so much grief that she didn’t even recognize Jesus when He stood in front of her. She thought he was the gardener. But the minute Jesus spoke her name, she knew. And it made all the difference in the world. Just as it should make all the difference in the world to us. Listen to how John describes that event. John 20:6-18 (NRSV)
 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,
 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb;
 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
All it took was one word to move Mary from grief and confusion to joy and understanding. And that word was simply her name. When Jesus spoke her name it all became crystal clear because no one can say your name like Jesus.
Years ago a group of kids between 4 and 8 were asked to answer the question, “What is love?” My favorite response is from an eight year old who was wise beyond her years. She said: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Whether she realized it or not, she defined the very essence of the third commandment: “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God.” If we truly love God, and seek to please God by being obedient, then God’s name will be safe in our mouths. Just as our names are safe in the mouth of Jesus. Nobody says your name like Jesus. And like the song says, “He knows YOUR name.” And Jesus calls you “Friend.”
That’s what I hope those of you who are being confirmed will remember. God knows your name.
I. GOD KNOWS YOUR NAME:
We live in a society where we’ve given up much of our identity to numbers. We’d like to think our mail delivery person knows our name, but really he/she is more interested in the street address and zip code then our name.
You might like to think your college knows you by name. But most college applications and even college records identify us by our birth date and social security number, or an application number assigned to US. In the military it’s your Name Rank and Serial Number.
When you call about your credit card, they want the Credit Card number and the last 4 digits of you Social Security Number. The IRS and government keep track of you, primarily by your social security number. You make a reservation in a motel and you get a reservation number.
But in a world that increasing wants to reduce us to a number God knows you by name. God knows your name. One of the ways I’ve tried to get to know people by name is by calling you by name when I’m serving communion. But now, I hate to admit, I’m getting older and sometimes a part of my brain just rebels and says, “I know their name but I’m not telling, ha ha ha ha ha ha.” And then when you’re 30 or 40 feet away it tells me your name but not the name of the person I’m getting ready to serve.
But not God. God knows how important our names are. And God knows Your name. God calls you by name. God has known your name since it was first whispered lovingly and reverently at your conception and then shouted with joy at your birth.
When someone you really know, someone you really respect, someone you really need calls out your name it’s just different. You know their voice. Even if you were blindfolded or in complete darkness, you’d recognize their voice. Their presence is a comfort. If you’re a child lost in the masses of people in a mall, that can mean the difference between panic and security. Just when you are about to panic and yell for help, you hear a familiar voice, your mother’s voice, your father’s voice. Suddenly you know that everything is going to be alright.
To be called by name, not just by anyone, but by someone who knows you as well as you know yourself brings focus and comfort and hope. That’s exactly what Mary must have felt that morning of the Resurrection when Jesus simply spoke her name.
II. GOD KNOWS YOU:
A. God knows your name but even more important is that God knows you. As Psalm 139 says, God has known you from the moment of conception. And because God knows you, God will not leave you or forsake you. Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned.” He also said, “Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In this Journey of Faith there are going to be times when we have doubts. Doubts and questions are a natural part of life and faith. There are times when we are absolutely certain of things in life and then there are times when those things we thought were the certainties of life, aren’t quite so certain any more. Sometimes those doubts and uncertainties creep in about ourselves or our relationship with God.
Please know this: all those negative thoughts we have about ourselves; all those thoughts about how God couldn’t love us; or those thoughts about how worthless we are. They aren’t from God. God knows you and God loves you and God has plans for you. God builds you up and doesn’t tear you down.
Listen to some of things God has said about you.
God has your name tattooed on the palms of his hands. That’s what it says in Isaiah 49:15-16 (NRSV) “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands”
God wears your name and initials like a signet ring. Hag 2:23 “On that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will take you, . . . and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the LORD of hosts.”
Again, Isaiah tells us that not only does God know our name but God has chosen us as God’s own and will protect us and go with us wherever we go and help us face whatever comes our way. Isaiah 43:1-2 (NRSV) “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
The Apostle Peter reminds that God chose us and made us to be a Holy people. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NRSV) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Paul in Ephesians 2:10 tells us “We are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
B. Those are just a few of the things God says about you. Those are the promises God reminds us about every time God says our name. God knows your name; God knows you and knows which of the promises you need to be reminded of and to hear again. We are called to remember and we’re called lean on these and all the other promises of God because we ARE fearfully and wonderfully made.
It’s not just Scripture that reminds us of the promises of God. Whenever anyone is baptized, confirmed or joins the church they take certain vows and WE the church renew our own vows to support each other and the church with our prayers, presence, gifts service and witness. We say that we will surround one another with love and forgiveness and live in such a way that we might grow in our faith and our faithfulness.
I want the Youth and the Confirmands to hear this. Are you listening? The vows we take together today, the covenant we make with each other as you profess your faith in Christ and join the Church, means that if something happens in your life and there comes a time that you don’t think you can go to your parents, you can come to one of us. You are not alone. Let me repeat that. You are not alone.
We are in this together. We are family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. And because God is with us, because Christ strengthens us, we can face anything together, whether it be failure or bad choices or thoughts of ending it all. It might be hard but I promise, together, with Christ, we can walk through anything.
Remember God knows your name. God knows you and loves you. God wants the best for you. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of that. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future with hope.”
That’s why Jesus came. There was no real hope in our lives because we were lost in sin. That’s why He died on the cross. That’s why He rose again. To give us that that future filled with forgiveness and hope. To be with us always to fill us with His Holy Spirit so he could remind us over and over and over again how precious we are in God’s sight.
We’re not here today celebrating Baptism and Confirmation because of what God has done in the past. We’re here because of what God continues to do in our lives now. We’re not here because of some long ago story of things which will never be again, we’re here because of the ongoing story of the things that will happen today, tomorrow and every day after as we live this adventure and journey of faith.
It’s just as true for mothers, whose love we celebrate today, as it is for each of our Confirmands and all the rest of us who stand as witnesses of these special spiritual events today.
Our God is a living God who knows us by name; who knows our needs; Who knows our desires. Who knows our failures and is there as we struggle through life. If we put our lives into God’s hands through Christ, God will forgive those failures, God will lift us up, and God will walk with us every single day on this journey of faith
God knows your name, and God speaks your name with love. Your name is safe in God’s mouth.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.