Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's In a Name

September 29, 2013 - Narrative Lectionary - Year 4, Week 3

Exodus 3:1-15

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ 
God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ 

I know how people know me by the way they say my name.
If you call me, ‘Z!’ – then you know me from college.
If you call me, ‘KJ’ – then you probably played sports with me, most likely in seminary.
‘Pastor Kathryn’ – church.
‘Coach Kathryn’ – You are most likely 8 or younger.

Katie, Kathy… are among my least favorite.
But the one I dislike the most is, “Hey Honey... can you tell me if the Pastor is in?”

What’s in a name?


Moses gets some pushback from those of us looking back at him 3000+ years away. Who does he think he is arguing with God – but there he is.

Before he argues that no one will believe him.
Before he mentions his speech impediment.
Before he flat out asks that someone else be asked instead.

Moses says to God: Whom shall I say sent me?

Our translation of the text says: I am Who I am.

But that’s not quite right. The Hebrew letters are (from right to left)  ‘yod’ ‘he(y)’ ‘vav’ ‘he(y).

Which all together means… well, it’s not translatable.


Yahweh is how it looks in print and how we often say it, but those are just the consonants with helpful vowels in between them. It’s not an actual word. As if we put the letters ‘K’ and ‘T’ and ‘R’ down on paper and asked people to read it. You can’t. So we might add some vowels, let’s go with ‘a’: KaTaR which means… nothing.

God is so beyond our understanding that even God’s name is outside of our grasp.

But there cannot be relationship without a name. And so God does respond…


YaHWeH is the sound of breath. It’s a presence. It’s the embodiment of God everywhere we go.

God is here.

Every breath, God is here.


I AM here…

I AM all you need…
I AM not defined by you…


I AM your God…
I AM with you…
I AM enough…



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