Whats in a name?

“Call me by name oh Lord, when you call me into your kingdom!”

In the last of our Lenten adventures we wanted to identify with people of a different race. Being multi-racial in our own family we had to stretch our imaginations a bit. So we went to a nearby ancient cliff dwelling national park called Mesa Verde. We have been there before and it is always interesting and fun to see and think about how people lived there. 7000+ feet elevation, 700+ years of civilization, farming, hunting, living to survive. This time was different though. We stayed on the Ute Nation reservation. Any person there could have told us what tribe they hail from. They could tell us stories from their ancestors. They could tell us their name and why they are named that. But the people that lived at Mesa Verde, that build these amazing feats of engineering (that have lasted for 2000 years), that survived in this area for over 700 years have no name. The government powers that be, have called them Anasazi for as long as I can remember but we now know that is a derogatory term from another large tribe in the area. So they are now called Ancestral Puebloans as ancestors of the modern tribes. However, no group claims this people now. They are nameless.

Even the term “indian” that we use comes from the fact that the early explorers thought they had found the East Indies. We use it to classify many people that don’t identify with that name personally at all!

This astounded us. They have no name. Are they remembered? Are they valid? Are they significant in history? They were building a temple when there civilization stopped.  Why did they stop building it?  Who were they? We, in our culture, place so much value on a name.  We named our kids very specifically for the meanings. They fit their names. We wear names on our clothing. We drive vehicles with names. We associate names with our foods. We know that the name “Donald Trump” stands for money and risk,” McDonalds” is fast food, “Hawaii” is sun and beach, “Mercedes” is nice car, “Organic” is better for you. “It’s just a name” does not apply in this day and age. We use names to identify, to classify, to differentiate, to recognize, to assign, to clarify. These people from Mesa Verde have no name? How is that?

God calls us many things in His word…

“child of God”…John 1:12

“branch of the true vine, conduit of Christ”…John 15

“justified and redeemed”…Romans 3:24

“child and heir”…Galatians 3:28

“temple of the Holy Spirit”…1 Corinthians 1:30

“beloved”…Song of Songs

“new creation”…2 Corinthians 5:17

I could go on and on. HE calls us by name… HE changes our names to what HE knows us to be… HE names us!


Our “Lenten Adventures” have taken our hearts to see that the homeless need to be seen, the religious are doing what they think is best for them and their families, that those around us that speak other languages can be beautifully accepting, and that we all feel the need to be named. I’m not sure that the kids see how this applies to their lives or their relationships with God, but I certainly hope it makes us better parents to teach them the characteristics of God.



One thought on “Whats in a name?

  1. I so appreciate this reflection. It, truly, is in seeing people and seeking to know them by name, not just by a condition or situation or living situation, that we reach out to them and love them in the way God loves us. I, too, hope we can teach out kids to look at people underneath the surface. Thank you!

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