I have called you by name

IMG_3446Yesterday I had the joy of being part of something special – the Collation of the Canon Pastor at Coventry Cathedral. There are a number of very personal reasons why the day was somewhere between fabulous and almost unbearably special for me, but there is something specific I wanted to think about here.

Two of the joys I had were meeting various tweeps who dutifully reeled off their twitter handles and names to me just before the service , and administering the chalice at Communion. My instruction for the service was “follow Margaret”, a wonderful Reader and my fellow chalice assistant, who looked after me beautifully. So I did. Where she went, I went. When she turned a right angle, I followed suit. And so it was that I landed at the side of an important looking gentleman in a very lovely gold Cope (kind of cloak), with him handing out wafers, and me and Margaret then handing our respective chalices to people for them to receive wine.

As it happened, many tweeps ended up receiving wine from me. And so it was I was able to offer them the chalice and use their name – “Kathryn, Simon, Ruth, Rachel etc etc etc, the blood of Christ keep you in eternal life”. It is a wonderful privilege to administer communion by name. I don’t do it in our main Sunday service, because I can’t do it for everyone – there are those whose names have not yet stuck, there are visitors….and it would be horrid for someone to be left out. But when I know everyone’s name, for example at our quiet Thursday morning service, I use it. And I figured that in a Cathedral, no-one would expect me to know everyone’s name, so just addressing those I knew would probably be OK.

Because it is my custom to use names where I can, I forget that for most people, it isn’t normal to receive communion by name. I forget how special it felt the first time someone used my name as they handed me bread or wine. I shouldn’t have been surprised by people commenting afterwards, but I was.

Names are powerful. Names are bound up in our identity. When asked that most personal of questions, “Who are you?” we answer with our name. And God knows our names….Isaiah 43

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.”


3 responses to “I have called you by name

  1. Being called by name is something I hadn’t really thought about either as a catholic and those long agnostic years, when I refused to accept Jesus by name or that he even existed.

    When eventually, I was confirmed in Canterbury Cathedral, that being called by name resounded with me. Which at age 59, in the midst of the excitement and enthusiasm of being a newish Christian was something to be received and marked with joy, prayer and shared with others.

    Jesus’ words the very hairs on your head are numbered (Luke 12:7) resonate for the very same reason. That personal relationship with Jesus which he offered and I accepted is more personal than with any human relationship, including closest family. They might be calling us by name, but he called us by name first at our baptism and that call is echoed in confirmation. And, I know that it also applies to those who aren’t baptized or even Christians – there’s no selfishness in Jesus, he loves, one and all and calls them all. Some might just be receiving that call through a different medium than the lense of Christianity.

    We’ve just had a wonderful Church in Belvedere Sunday. Not Churches, but Church!! We might differ in style and substance but we are all ambassador’s for Christ. We came together in the open air and sunshine, we sang and praised, shared testimony (I was privileged to be asked to share my own) and committed ourselves to (in the words that we prayed jointly:

    Ambassadors together.

    Living God, enable us this day to be pilgrims and companions,
    Committed to the way of Christ,
    Faithful to the call of Christ,
    Discerning the mind of Christ,
    Offering the welcome of Christ,
    Growing in the likeness of Christ,
    Engaging in the mission of Christ,
    In the world that belongs to Christ.

    Need I say more.

  2. Interesting to hear your side. Usually I’m dubious about use of name at communion. My stated reason is the fact that I think it will make any peope whose names aren’t known left out, but there is also something less articulated, something to do with drawing my attention to the priest. However, as a visitor, not expecting to be known by name, it was a powerful experience, so thank you.

    I’m glad that @wobblygoose and I both ended up receiving from you, as a result of wheelchair logistics!

  3. So sorry I wasn’t well enough to attend, Claire 😦 I’ve heard from lots of others about how special it all was.
    I would have happily received the chalice from you … by name or not 🙂

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