sexta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2015


No longer will you be called Abram;
your name will be Abraham,
for I have made you
a father of many nations.

As for Sarai your wife,
you are no longer to call her Sarai;
her name will be Sarah.

Genesis 17:5e15 (read 17:1-16) - NIV

In ancient times much importance was given to names. A change of name meant a change of life situation and destiny. The above narration signals the confirmation of a promise that had been made. The new names were a reinforcement that something impossible was going to happen in the future. The names were linked to their destination and not the circumstances of their present moment.

Since then Abraham has been adopted as father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. First, after more than a millennium of oral tradition, Abraham’s deeds were recorded in the book of Genesis. Approximately 580 years later, Christians adopted him as their spiritual father. In the seventh century AD, Muhammad adopted him as the father of Islam. All three of the monotheistic religions legitimize themselves through Abraham. There is much controversy around the person of Abraham, because there is no archaeological or historical evidence that he ever existed. Independent of any conclusion as to the historicity of Abraham, the narrative presents lessons and inspiration.

In the narrative it seemed as though God was just leading Abram on. Abram had left his homeland 25 years earlier with the promise of land and many descendants. All these years were filled with frustrations and failures. He was still without land and his wife, Sarai, was sterile. Their fertile years had long passed. At the age of 99 he could not even think of paternity. Until then the divine promises sounded hollow, with no prospect of realization. By a miracle, Abram and Sarai had not given up everything and returned to their homeland.

Again, the LORD came with all those promises, and this time he even changed their names: from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. The names had nothing to do with the reality of the moment. Abraham means "Father of Many Nations" and Sara, "Sovereign" or "Princess". It seemed ironic, but at least by their stubbornness, the couple deserved the new names. It was a sigh of potential.

The potential of the name "Christian" is great. "Christ" means "anointed by God." In Christian theology, Jesus was anointed by God to be a manifestation of the Divine. Jesus whose name means “savior” embodied the Kingdom of God in a world of anti-kingdoms. By taking the title, "Christian", we have the potential to become also manifestations of what God wants for the world. As in the times of Abraham, there is a lack of concrete manifestations of the Kingdom of God in society. In all spheres our reality, is far removed from the justice and peace that the name, Christian, should imply. Even within the church there are vanity, ambition, treachery, betrayal, prejudice and intolerance.

We need a lot of faith to journey in the direction of the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where there is peace and goodwill. By faith we can live the meaning of the name, Jesus (savior) here and now. We can already live the Kingdom by demonstrating solidarity, compassion, sincerity and tolerance. By our lives we can overcome the sectarian barriers of racism, sexism, materialism and all the "isms" that divide humanity. Taking the name of Jesus means to live the values of the Kingdom without worrying about the results that are beyond our control. We may not live to see the germination of the seeds we sow. Taking the name of Jesus means to sow the love he revealed.



When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

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