Greetings everyone. Rob here.
We’ve been looking into the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation at church lately. These letters were the words of Christ himself, dictated to John on the island-prison of Patmos. They are a mix of compliment and rebuke; encouragement and call to repentance. I love the end of the letters when Christ, risen and glorious, speaks of the reward to those who follow him. These words are spoken to churches facing intense persecution, especially as Rome started to insist that she and her emperor must be worshipped too. What most of these churches knew was that if Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not. This conflict of worldview was particularly obvious in Pergamum where the Imperial Cult had erected a temple in honour of itself. In 2:17 Christ says this to the church in Pergamum:
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
Christ has food for you and he has a name for you. Many of Pergamum’s buildings were made of black stone and so the plaques or inscriptions were often made out of white marble as a contrast. At dinner parties you were also often given a stone with your name on it. God gives a white stone with a new name written on it. White stone carries the meaning of indestructible luminescence. Durable and then some. A new name that lasts for all of eternity. I wonder what name Christ has for you. Abram became Abraham, Simon became Peter, Saul became Paul. John and James became sons of thunder. What name does Christ have for you? You can ask him you know?
But in order to receive your new name you need to lay down the old one. What names have you been carrying that don’t belong to you? Loser, hopeless, junkie, nerd, sick, broken. Are you just a number like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables? His story was transformed when the bishop gave him a new name – my brother. What do you need to lay down in exchange for the white stone with your eternal name? You are a brother or sister to Christ himself; a son or a daughter of the true Father; a living temple of the Holy Spirit. You have a name. Ask God. Take refuge in his love for you and may that love lead you to a life of beauty, of purity, of courage and valour, of durability and strength, for ever and ever Amen.