Lenten writings: by name

I have called you by name, you are mine… (Is. 43;1)

Maybe this is all we know of heaven; to be called by name. 

There is the name each of us was given, at birth. As a midwife, I see people choose names for many reasons:  a favorite aunt, a family tradition, the season, circumstance, the meaning. Often in today’s culture of peeking in at a baby’s private parts, the name is chosen midway through the pregnancy. 

The last book of Scripture says:

I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

I was named “Joanna”, Ιωαννα, Grace. As my father’s sermon illustration explained, after 18 years of waiting for a child it was sheer grace. 

I found that hard to hold as I wrestled as a grown up with the reality of my story. How could a child be longed for and then so violated? And so I asked God about it, and the answer came. Your dad named you for his own reasons. I have named you “grace”. You are living into that name. 

Mary the Magdalene came, in tomorrow’s Lenten Easter story. She showed up at the cross too, choosing to stay in the pain. She had known agony; 7 demons Jesus cast out of her. And so she comes, drawn by love, to finish the embalming process cut short by the Sabbath. And He is gone. Her hope, gone. 

She asks the gardener where the body of her Lord is? Does he know where they have taken Him? And He answers with one word, Mary. 

And it is enough. More than enough. Her name, spoken by the One who knows her story. 

Joanna came too, to the tomb early in the morning, that first day of the week. Nothing more is said. Perhaps He spoke her name, too. 

Joanna. Grace. 


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