So the question was: what would your name be, if you were named in the Hebrew fashion. Would it be Diligent? Timid? Clear-Sighted? Always In A Hurry? And then part 2, what would you like your name to be as you grow into the person God sees in you, the person God is calling forth? Because re-naming is part of the business God is in. We come to him seeing ourselves in one way, and through his grace he opens up the possibility of a new identity.
Receiving that new name is not always an easy process, and we certainly see that in today’s lesson from Genesis 32. This scene has been written about and painted and commented on for centuries. It’s ancient, it’s disturbing, it’s enigmatic, and we could ask questions of it all day. In the first verse, Jacob is preparing to see his twin brother Esau for the first time in 20 years. This family is as dysfunctional as they come, with lies and betrayals from top to bottom, including Jacob himself having swindled Esau out of his birthright before fleeing the country. Jacob is a moral disaster, and his name sounds like “Heel,” although it could also mean Usurper, in other words the guy who takes over other people’s stuff for his own ends.