“Time is the secret ingredient to greeting others by name.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 17, 2022
I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name. 3 John 1:14, NIV
Names are remarkable things, are they not? At one level, a name can be fairly utilitarian and transactional, ensuring you pick up the correct coffee from Starbucks. Yet on the other hand, names carry profound weight and meaning. Our names are core to our identities as human beings, given to us by our parents as a sign and symbol of love. Often, the name we are given at birth is aspirational in nature, connecting you to a beloved family member or to a heroic figure whose life and character your parents long for you to grow to embody and emulate.
Additionally, our ability to know and remember the names of others is a central aspect of relational intimacy and depth. Years ago I worked as a pastor, which required an ability to lovingly journey with many different people through the ups and downs of their lives. While I found great joy in this holy work, I struggled to quickly remember the names of people I met. In fact, I remember once saying to God, “If there’s a spiritual gift of name remembering, would you please give it to me!” I longed to find a way to recall names, because I knew these beloved women and men would feel distant and anonymous until I saw them and greeted them by name.
St. John was deeply aware of this reality. In the closing words of his third letter, he explicitly connects friendship with greeting by name (3 John 1:14). If I don’t know your name, we are merely acquaintances, not friends. Similarly, we must learn to love the people our friends love. Do you know the names of your colleague’s children or spouse? Give them the gift of your time and slow down long enough to ask questions about their lives and loves and then joyfully wait for a response.
In fact, time is the secret ingredient to greeting others by name. You dignify their humanity when you slow down and stop rushing in order to truly see them and welcome them into your life. This can and should be true of every human interaction we have. Whether you are at church or work, the checkout line of the grocery store or at a child’s sporting event, every moment is an opportunity to celebrate the value and worth of the other, and this begins with greeting them by name.
Father, just as you know and love us personally, help us to see the dignity in others and take the time to learn their names. Amen.
Think through your weekly interactions and identify a few key people you see regularly, yet do not know their name, and resolve to learn it and begin greeting them by name!
St. Alban’s Church, Bristol: All My Hope On God Is Founded
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