Scripture: Genesis 2:4-9 (10-15) 16-25
Key verse: (19) So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
Reflection: Names matter. I have a friend who, at the time of this writing, has a newborn that is almost 2 days old. So far, she doesn’t have a name. There are some contenders, but her parents are waiting to see which one fits her. They are sure they will know the right name when they hear it. It’s a big responsibility to name someone, or something. Names carry meaning.
One of my favorite children’s books in my library (and the church library!) is called And God Created Squash by Martha Whitmore Hickman. It’s an imaginative retelling of the Genesis creation story. God has fun thinking up things to create, and considering what to name them. Here is the passage from which the book gets its title:
God took another breath. “How about…yellow apples and plums with purple skins and small grapes to turn into raisins…. But I’m getting ahead of myself,“ thought God. “And how about something long and green, with little strings along the side?… Beans!” God said. “And how about…squash? I like that name,” God said. “I think I’ll use it again. Acorn squash. Butternut squash. Even zucchini squash. I might have a game and call it squash. Or put my hand on something and press down hard and call that squash,” God said.
I love the image of God enjoying wordplay. I also love that Genesis describes a God who hands over the sacred task of naming, and entrusts it to Adam. One of God’s own creations carries the responsibility to name other creations. I am reminded that we all have the power and responsibility to share sacred meaning by what we call others. When we deride and demean others by our words, we let God down and abuse the gift of words. When we speak names and address others in love, we reflect the image of God in ourselves and in those whom we address. In this new year, may we all enjoy more words that build others up and less of what squashes them down.
Prayer: Lord, use my words today and every day to share light and love in the world. Forgive me when I forget. Teach me to honor all whom you have created. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].