God has many different names. In the Jewish tradition, there’s a saying that God has 72 of them. Lord, Eternal One, and YHWH are just a few. These names, of course, are ones we give to God and we use them to describe God’s divinity and immortality. These names help us understand who God is and also how different God is from us. While standing before the burning bush, Moses is told that God is called “I-Am” or “I-Am-Who-I-Am.” As Christians, we use Jesus as one of God’s names because Jesus is God incarnate. But even these names don’t seem to be able to hold everything that makes God, God.
In the ancient world, a formula was developed to flesh out a god’s characteristics. The author Pausanias, for example, said that “Zeus was, Zeus is, Zeus will be.” Like the words Lord and Eternal One, these descriptions of Zeus point to Zeus’ supposed eternal identity. In our reading today from the book of Revelation 1:4b-8, this same formula is used describe God as the One “who is and who was and who is to come.” But the formula isn’t an exact match and there’s an important difference that we should notice. The author of Revelation isn’t only interested in God’s eternal nature. God is much more than just something that lasts forever. Our God is also an everlasting being that acts. (Revelation: Interpretation Commentary, page 75). God moves and chooses to come into our world. God is not only something “up there.” God also is here, right now. We are invited to know this God who, through Jesus Christ, chose to live with us. Through prayer, baptism, and the gifts served at the Lord’s table, we meet a God who is already moving towards us. In Christ, God takes the initiative to enter into our lives because God already knows our names. And God will put God’s holy name of love, mercy, and action into our hearts, souls, and minds.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week (or about our liturgy). This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for Christ the King Sunday, 11/25/2018.