There's a moment at the end of every wedding ceremony where the couple turns around and the minister says, "It's my pleasure to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Jamal Jones." Or "Jamal and Ginger Jones." It's the couple's first acknowledgment of being one, having the same name, being together in this life from now on. Beve and I always bet on whether they'll go with the Mrs. Jamal or give her first name. To tell the truth, I've never liked being called Mrs. the Beve (or his actual name, even) W. I grew up with the Beve, of course. Mrs. W meant one person to me in my childhood--Beve's very tall (6'1"), stately, somewhat intimidating mother, who didn't have to speak loudly to get her point (and she definitely had one!) across. No, I couldn't imagine myself filling those shoes, even if my feet had been large enough (which would have looked pretty dang funny at the bottom of this stubby 5'5" person!). And though we share the same last name, the Beve and me, I'm not Mrs. the Beve any more than he's Mr. me. The truth is somewhere between, where we share this name we took on that long ago May afternoon. I'm not submerged in his name, but walk with him, beside him. Sure, sometimes, he overwhelms me--his 14 inches on me can be pretty large, especially when he's blocking the way at the kitchen sink. On the other hand, those 14 inches come in mighty handy when it comes to changing overhead lightbulbs and reaching things in the far reaches of the top shelves. You know, for the Beve, the top of the refrigerator has always been like a shelf. For years it was where he stuck his wallet and keys. I can't come close to seeing that surface, let alone think to put my wallet up there, but it's about eye level to him. And the towel racks and windows we put in our new bathroom are so high (not to mention the shower head that the short plumber could hardly believe I was serious about!) that I have to stand on tiptoe to reach them. Hmm, guess I'm only a W by name when it comes to that. But then again, you should see him try to get something off the bottom shelves, out of bottom drawers. And though I've digressed here, in the end, our name together is what we've made of it for the last quarter of a century. A partnership.
The point is, most people--though not every one--walk out of their weddings with a new name. Even if one is a man and hasn't had to go down to the courthouse to change it, having someone suddenly, in the space of a kiss, take on the one he's carried around all his life slightly heavier, more important. Two of us under its covering, rather than just one. And for a woman, even if she's been practicing for months (years?) to write the new one, there's still a certain hitch in the signature for the first little while, as the thrill runs from the heart to the pen. 'I am no longer who I was, I am now someone completely new--different. Part of something bigger than myself.'
I'm reading 2 Chronicles right now, and came to this in 7:14--"If my people, who are called by my Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their land."
Being called by His Name--that's what we are, isn't it? The people of God with His covenant were, but we who are believers actually bear the Name of the Incarnate. Christ--one. A little Christ. That's what we are. The moment we say yes to Him, we are 'kissed' by the Holy Spirit, spun around and begin our new life with a new identity, never to be the same again.
Sometimes we get caught up in all the differences in what each of us believe--and we label ourselves by those differences. Denominations, ways of responding. Charismatic, evangelical, conservative, fundamentalist, presbyterian, anglican, the list could go on interminably. But if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I will be saved. That's it. And everyone, according to the text of Romans 10: 9-10 who believes and confesses likewise is also saved. We're all in this together--we all share the same Name. If you think about it, we're all married to the same Groom. Aren't we? Together.
A people for His name--holy and beloved. Christian.