Receive a New Name

By Steve Jones, presiding bishop

I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.  Genesis 17:7

Following the 2000 World Conference I agreed to co-chair the church name-change process with Apostle Linda Booth. I recalled a profound moment of transformation that I’d nearly forgotten.

I was alone, sitting at the dining room table and preparing a sermon. I recalled an experience I hadn’t thought of for more than 35 years. The Holy Spirit was reminding me of my personal connection to the church name-change process.

At a particular moment in my preparation I was no longer in my dining room but was sitting on the ledge of a windowsill in the courthouse of my hometown. The chamber doors opened, and out came my mother and my stepfather from the judge’s office.

The bailiff called my name, Steve Hopkins, and I walked slowly and tentatively through the huge wooden doors that would bring me into the judge’s chambers. The judge asked me to sit down in front of a large wooden desk across from him.

In what seemed like a loud voice the judge said, “Son, do you know why you’re here?” “Yes, my stepfather wants to adopt me.” “Yes,” the judge said, “that’s right. Your father wants to adopt you, and because he loves you so much he wants you to take his name. Do you understand that you will no longer be called by your current name, Steve Hopkins, but that you will be called by his name?” “Yes,” I told the judge. I understood that I would be called by a new name, Steve Jones.

Now back in the quiet of my dining room, I marveled at how the Holy Spirit had connected me to a moment in my life the whole church was about to experience. Now I knew why I was co-chairing the church name-change process. My testimony from my life’s experience could help others as we experienced God calling us by a new name.

Prayer for Peace:

God, we are yours and desire to be called by your name. Allow the Spirit to connect us to the gift of your Son who brings us an understanding of what it means to be called by your name and to be your peace in the world. Amen.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Offering Blessings of Community

Each day this week receive and share blessings of community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the network of relationships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings are flowing to you from these circles?

Reflect, pray, and write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you “discern and embrace” the “divine blessing” of this name that opens you to “become a blessing to the whole creation” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:1). What act of blessing are you invited to complete?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will call myself “Peace,” and try to be that peace.

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