January 2015

"I AM ... this is m y name for ever"
[Exodus 3.14-15]

In the history of religions, and of paganism also, there are unnumerable gods with na mes. If you can name something, or someone, then you feel more secure in their presence. You may also have a measure of control over things, and to some ex tent over people, that you can give a name to. When I first taught a class of children, I knew that I had to learn their names very quickly if I were to ma intain proper discipline.

So we can sympathise with Moses when he asks for the name of the God with whom he was speaking. During t he episode of the burning bush, he was aware that he was awesomely in communication with the Divine: and he needed to have some means of identifying or mak ing real (bring down to earth as it were) this experience of spiritual energy which was empowering him for his mission. He must have been totally baffled b y the response that he got. It came as part of the verb "to be" in an untranslateable form, "I AM WHO I AM" or "I AM WHAT I AM" or "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE." As one scholar put it, "rivers of ink" have been spilt by commentators and language experts over this Saying. But ultimately the mystery of w ho or what God is remains intact. God is, in essence, impenetrable to human understanding.

In spite of that, this Divine Word is a lso, in spiritual terms, a revelation. For Moses' sake, and for our sakes too, God is pleased to reveal himself as in some sense personal. This is a Self- revelation: and as such it follows that there must be a possibility of relationship. So this apparently almost meaningless phrase is in fact the foundation for the whole of the Judaeo-Christian faith in the One God who not only "is", but is deeply involved in his creation in an unbreakable relationship.

Most particularly is he connected "personally" (Person-to-person) with the crown of his creation: i.e. with us, the human beings wh om he has made in his image and likeness, created by his Divine Power, infused with his Divine Wisdom, and enveloped, individually and corporately, by his Divine Love.

As we listen to this primal Saying at the start of a new year with our mind, heart and will, we shall gain a deeper i nsight into the nature of God as personal: as One who calls us each by our own name, with whom we are invited to have a personal one-to-One relationship.&n bsp;