Friday, 27 June 2014

Power in the name

Today I'm joining in with another #SheReadsTruth link-up, about where we take our name from. I've got lots of blog-gy ideas in my head at the moment but never getting time to commit them to paper (or screen!) I have been enjoying reading through Ruth though, and this study has given me plenty of food for thought. Have a look at other people's take on the story here.

I've written before about my own name here. It led me on a path of discovery about who I was and the words that have been spoken over me my whole life, just when people called me by my name.
Today I'm going to write instead about the names we dole out to places and communities. I'm a real believer in the power of our spoken word, that what we say can become prophetic into the spiritual realm as well as on an earthly level around us.
There is a prophecy in Isaiah:
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. (Isaiah 62:1-4 ESV)

We used to pray that over my home city of Liverpool. For anyone who doesn't know, Liverpool has somewhat of a dodgy reputation in the UK. Sure we had the Beatles and some good footballers, but we've also had riots, the streets are a bit messy and unemployment has historically been rife. I remember once going to a festival with some workmates from Leeds and camping next to some scousers. They were friendly and immediately I felt more secure in the surroundings. My friends, however, were on edge. 'Make sure you take everything with you, there are scousers in the next tent!' I was shocked and appalled.
So we prayed for a new name over our city. We prayed that 'Hope' would be spoken over it, and 
restoration. We asked to be called, 'my delight is in her'.
Do you know, it matters? It matters to people the reputation of where they live. It matters to children the reputation of their high school. What's the point in trying if no-one from your school ever gets anywhere when they leave? A teacher was recently fatally stabbed in a school in Leeds. It is a good school and this was an isolated incident, but as well as the fear the young people (and staff) now face going into school, they are marked by their uniform as 'from the school where that teacher got stabbed.' There's some negative power in hearing that on a regular basis. We have to stand against it.
I think we have a responsibility here. We have a responsibility to pray and lift up our neighbourhoods, our communities, our friends and family. But secondly, we have a responsibility to speak new names over those same groups. We can seek the positives and draw them out into the open, we can restore people and places with our words.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then... your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in." (Isaiah 58:6, 7, 12 ESV)
The whole chapter is full of hope and new life. Read it. But we are called to be the restorer of streets. We do that with our actions, but also with our words.

What are the positive words that you can speak over the groups and peoples you encounter, that otherwise might only have negative labels?

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