“After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child, and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)

         As Jewish law would prescribe, on the eighth day, Jesus is circumcised and officially given the name of Jesus.  What began with Gabriel revealing to Mary the miraculous birth now culminates in Mary and Joseph giving their newborn baby the name they had been instructed.  This child would be named Jesus.    As Jesus lived out his life, his name would become known to many who would be transformed by his love and grace.  Fishermen would call him Jesus, prostitutes would know his name, tax collectors would call him a friend, religious leaders would debate him, and even a thief on a cross would call out his name.  The name Jesus was more than a name; it was who He was.  Jesus means: God is salvation.

         One of the main aspects of discernment is seeking out our identity as a follower of Jesus.  Who are we when we claim that Jesus is our Savior and our Lord?  What is our identity as we follow Jesus along the way?  What is our identity as a church, and how are we known by those around us?  Through discernment we hopefully answer these questions and many others.  But until we know who we are, we cannot discover who God is calling us to be.  Knowing our name is important.

         The Apostle Paul literally had a new name and identity after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.  The former persecutor of the Christian Gospel named Saul would become Paul, God’s messenger of the Gospel.  Thus, Paul, in reflecting on his life to the Church at Galatia, could write, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Paul had been given a new identity and a new mission.

         We, too, are given a new name and a new mission.  In discernment we prayerfully seek to discover this name and mission.  Through prayer, mediation, conversation, silence, listening, and scripture, we open ourselves up to God’s will and God’s way.  We follow the Light so we too might then be lights in the world. 

Prayer:  Lord, wherever you lead, I’ll go.

Photo by Vanderlei Longo on

Published by Dr. Philip W. Turner

Since 1991 I have had the joy of serving as Pastor of Pine Street Baptist Church in the community of Oregon Hill in Richmond, Virginia. The people I have met a long the way have inspired me in my daily ministry. I have truly been blessed.

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