Changing your mind

Psalm 148, 149, 150 (Morning)

Psalm 114, 115 (Evening)

Amos 6:1-14

2 Thessalonians 1:5-12

Luke 1:57-68

I would never pick me to name anyone’s children, but I’m actually pretty good at naming dogs–or, maybe I should say that I’m good at helping people hear the name their dog was meant to be.

It’s always interesting when someone posts pictures of their new dog on social media. It seems like people just can’t contain themselves to name someone else’s dog. As I watch this play out, I sit back for a while and let the names roll in with no comment. Then I usually ask a few questions of the owner–things about their life, previous dogs, things dear to them–and toss out a couple of suggestions. I consider it a “win,” not necessarily if they pick the name I suggested, but if they become convicted towards a particular name.

In our Gospel reading today, it’s helpful to go back and read the paragraphs preceding today’s reading to get our bearings on the one today. Zechariah, at this point, is convicted to name his son John because of the prior visitation by an angel. Evidently, he’s had a discussion with Elizabeth about this, and she’s on board with it, too. (Well, okay, not so much a discussion with words, being as how Zechariah’s presently mute and all, but some sort of understanding has certainly transpired, because Elizabeth is clearly in Zechariah’s camp with this one.)

Yet the unnamed others are not convinced, until Zechariah’s tongue becomes free by the demonstration of his conviction to the name John. It took a pretty big sign to move them off their position.

There are always going to be things in our lives that we have “birthed” where we know the name God has chosen for it, but others are simply not going to “get it” for some period of time. Perhaps it’s a place where we find ourselves called to a new form of ministry, or a place where we are making a major life adjustment, or even something where we are called to rise out of the ashes of our own mistakes and sins. Others might think we’re stupid, misguided, deluded, or simply not to be trusted–and that’s to be expected. It’s difficult and frustrating, but it’s a reality of life in this broken world.

It’s also possible we could, at any point in the process, be wrong about that name we hear. Our own egos can really get in the way of that one. We may really wrestle with what we hear when we do hear it. However, there tends to be a sense of acceptance and peace that accompanies getting it right, and that, I believe is the place where we become convicted. What we also learn from this story is that the convincing of that conviction does not come from us–it comes from the signs that follow when we do what’s been asked of us. Convincing others of those names is the job of the Holy Spirit, not us.

When is a time you’ve seen a sign that gave you the peace of your own convictions, or when a sign changed your mind about someone else’s convictions?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid

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