Called, named, chosen

June 1, 2022 by Jeniffer Rodriguez

Leer la devoción en español.

May 30, 2022

As I write this devotional, I am at the hospital waiting for more responses to know what is happening and the reason I am here. It has been seven days since I came here because of a swollen leg. I have a lot of pain and difficulty walking. A lot of blood tests are done every day. One of my arms is swollen because of all the pinching and IV fluids. Every day, a cadre of doctors stop by to check on me. Even though there are no concrete test results, I feel cared for and loved because these doctors and nurses, each one of them, say my name.

I can tell you I miss my children so much. My daughter has been sending me her paintings, and I have them on the hospital room wall. I can look at those paintings every time I feel low and sad. At last, I can see their faces through WhatsApp every time I talk with them. We feel so happy to see each other. There is joy in hearing our voices.

The Friday before being admitted to the hospital, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop from Music that Makes Community, led by Paul Vasile and Jorge Lockward. One of the songs we sang and learned was I will Change Your Name by D.J. Butler. This song has been with me since the beginning of this hospital journey because, at times, I am in pain, feel lonely, or am afraid; I am more than that for God; I have a beautiful name. Below are the lyrics of the song:

I will change your name

you shall no longer be called

Wounded, Outcast

Lonely or Afraid.

There are various Bible stories where God changes someone’s name. In the book of Genesis, there are different stories where we can see that happening. We can mention Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:15) and Jacob to Israel (Genesis 32:28). Each one of them were transformed. Each one of their names had a meaning and a purpose to fulfill.

My wonderful God created me. I am God’s precious creature. The God who created me is the same God who created the heavens and earth. The same God who named the light Day and the darkness Night. I have been given a name. A name that has a reason and meaning to be called.

“When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters—God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night.” (Genesis 1:1-5, CEB)

While beating the unknown in a hospital bed, I am reminded that God has changed my name already. I am now called precious, powerful, healed and loved. The days do not matter. The times do not matter. I am remembered. I am not forgotten because of my name. My new name.

Rev. Jeniffer Rodríguez is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ossining, NY. Jeniffer and her husband, Kyle Craig, are the parents of a beautiful 3-year-old girl Emma Sophia and a handsome 1-year-old boy Eric Gabriel. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she pursued her Master of Divinity at McCormick Theological Seminary. Rev. Rodríguez likes to do creative things with art, both for worship and personally. She is a chaplain of the New York City-based Ecumenical Choir Cántico Nuevo (New Song) and is involved in social justice issues.