Identity Theft

Welcome to the Feast of the Holy Name. Luke records that on this day, eight days after his birth, the child of Mary was circumcised and given the name Jesus. The name was given to Jesus, as an angel told his father Joseph, because he would, “save his people from their sins”. You see, in Hebrew, the word “Jesus” means “savior” or “deliverer”. Jesus’ identity, his calling, the work he was to do, was established early on – from the very beginning, even before he was born. And he lived fully into that identity. Born of flesh, living a fully human life, but also divine, and savior of God’s people. He assumed an identity, unlike anyone before or since.

We too are called to live fully into our identity – to become who we are meant to be. But sometimes our identity is lost along the way. And sometimes it is stolen.

The Identity Theft Resource Center, determined that some 90 million records were reportedly compromised in various security breaches during a six month period in 2006. It’s a serious problem. Hackers can penetrate the privacy of your personal computer. Symbols of your identity in contemporary society: Social Security numbers, your driver’s license number, your credit card information, even your medical records are subject to theft and possible misuse. You could lose a lot of money, your privacy could be violated, but “identity theft” as we use the term today, doesn’t really result in the loss of your identity – of who you really are.

That’s not to say that your identity can’t be stolen, or given away. Many of us give a great deal of thought to protecting our ID’s, our credit information, our computer passwords, but seem quite willing to give away our true identity. We willingly sacrifice our time, our energy, our intellect, to endeavors that are neither personally satisfying nor beneficial to humankind – to God’s creation. We work at dead end jobs. We allow others to work at tasks that are demeaning, ill-paid, stripping them of their identity. Not allowing them or ourselves to live fully into the potential of human beings – God’s children. We allow the pursuit of money, or security, to interfere with the realization of our own calling. Or worse we allow our quest for what the world tells is the good life, to destroy the dreams, the hopes, and the aspirations of others – of our spouses, of our employees, or of those who wait on us at Wal-Mart.

I suggest to you on this Feast Day of the Holy Name, that your name is holy as well. And so are the names of all those we encounter – the names of those also given by angels – those called Bill or Suzi, or perhaps Juan or Beatriz. Just as Jesus “the deliverer” lived into an identity that was both human and divine, we too are called to recognize that spark of divinity within us and that lives fully within all those around us.

Feast of the Holy Name
Grace Episcopal Church
Siloam Springs


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