Week 2, Genesis 1:1—2:4a “Created in God’s Image”: Naming

Monday, March 6

Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).

Readers have long noticed—and rightly so!—that in Genesis 1, God creates by speaking. John’s Gospel begins with this insight (“In the beginning was the Word”), and goes on to identify Jesus as that creative word of God (“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” [John 1:14]). It is important for us to recognize, however, not only that God speaks the world into being, but also what God says. In Hebrew, God’s creation begins with two words: Yehi ‘or—“Let Light be.” God creates by naming: when God pronounces the name of a thing (Light, or Sky, or the Lights adorning the sky), the thing comes into being!

In part, this reminds us of the importance of naming in the ancient world. It is no accident that often in Scripture, with a new call comes a new identity: Abram becomes Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Sarai becomes Sarah (Genesis 17:15), Jacob becomes Israel (Genesis 32:28), Simon becomes Peter (Matthew 16:18); Saul becomes Paul (Acts 13:9). But it also affirms that who we are is God’s gift to us. God has pronounced our names from the beginning of creation. Today, let us remember and celebrate God’s gift of identity, and pray for the wisdom and insight to grant that gift to one another.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for making me who I am: for gifting me with my very identity. Forgive me when I fear and distrust those unlike me, forgetting that you have spoken their names as well—that they, too, have received their identity from you. Grant me wisdom to listen, and courage to value what you value, for you are truly “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 KJV). Through Jesus the Christ, who called his disciples by name, Amen.