The Rev. Micah Jackson Meditation

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Psalm 148,149,150; Amos 6:1-14; Luke 1:57-58


 Names have always been powerful. Knowing someone's name implies familiarity, and calling someone by a nickname or a private term of endearment reveals intimacy. Names often express the hopes of the namer for the child, or honor someone or something important. So, it surprised those who heard Elizabeth name her son John. That was not what they expected. It wasn't a family name, or one that held strong associations with their circle. But Zechariah confirmed the choice, and so it was. Jesus' cousin, the one who would one day baptize the Messiah, the one whom tradition calls "The Forerunner" would be called John.

It makes sense, though, doesn't it? God was signaling something important, even before Jesus' birth. He would be doing a new thing. The old ways, the confidence that things would always be like they had always been, that what was coming would be what had been expected...those days were over. But what about the name itself? John means "God is gracious." Even in the desert, when the Baptizer wore his rough clothes and used rough language, even when people began to understand that things were never going to be the same, God wanted his people to remember an intimate and timeless truth. God is gracious.

Holy One, you remind us always that you are gracious. Pour your grace upon us in this season of waiting, in Jesus' name. Amen

The Rev. Micah Jackson, PhD

Bishop John Hines Associate Professor of Preaching Dean of Community Life
Seminary of the Southwest