To Love is to Call By Name

I’ve just recently finished re-reading Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle. I’ve had the experience of having the book mean something completely different to me during this time of my life. That’s the power of words, isn’t it? They can change and transform you again and again as you meet or re-meet them at different point in time.

L’Engle writes:

It seems more than ever the compulsion today is to identify, to reduce someone to what is on the label. To identify is to control, to limit. To love is to call by name.

Her book was published in 1980, so “today” for her didn’t include the discussion about the NC bathroom law or the Marriage Equality Ruling and yet her words ring true for today’s discussions and debates.

We reduce people to labels of sexuality and of gender when we want to generalize and ostracize. We reduce people to labels when we want to oppress. We reduce people to labels when we want to maintain power. We reduce people to labels when we repeat the rhetoric that includes labels rather than people.

I’m finding this to be even more true as we minister to the community of people as ministrieslab.

Oh so you are ministering to the homeless?

No, we are ministering to Lee and Adam and Melanie and Rhonda and…

To love is to call by name, not label.

Thanks be to God for visionary writers who write words that challenge how we minister and how we love.