Recently Steve and I joined a new church and immediately three ministers in particular latched onto our names. Every time we pass them in the halls or in the sanctuary, we hear, "How are the Pearsons today?" "Hey, Dr. Steve. It's good to see you." "Good morning, Mrs. Connie. How are you today?" (Yes, I'm in that age group where normally it is Mrs. Connie rather than just Connie. We are in the South after all, and ministers tend to be unfailingly polite). This is a relatively large church. I can't tell you how good it feels to not only be seen but known.
My son had an encounter recently with the Morgan County pastor who officiated at mine and Steve's wedding more than 51 years ago. Click here to read what he wrote as a result. Please pay particular attention to Bro. Lee's pastoral advice to Matt.
To further reinforce this point, I've read the passage and heard a recent sermon about the encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdalene the morning of His resurrection.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Do you see how personal it became when she heard the Lord speak her name? Her reaction was immediate, and all doubts vanished. It makes such a difference when we take the time to learn someone's name and lean in to hear their stories.
I'm going to try to do a better job of that moving forward, and I challenge you to do the same.