Excerpted from 2023 Lenten Guide: A Season of Renewal, a Lenten Guide for Lectionary Year A from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
“I have never met an addict,” Rev Michelle Mathis said to the crowd at the Gaston Clergy Breakfast. “I have met Dan, Sharon, James, Jen, Sam, and Sarah.” It was a clergy breakfast where Michelle was speaking on the overdose crisis and ways that faith communities can get involved in harm reduction. Michelle was educating those in the room about the role stigma plays as a barrier to care and that one way to eliminate stigma is to call someone by their name.
In the reading in Genesis this week, God tells Abram, I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. In the reading, the word bless or blessing is repeated five times. This repetition stood out to me because God wants Abram to realize the importance of his name and the families who will come from him.
Imagine if this was the reality for people who use drugs, people who live with HIV, people living with mental health concerns. Imagine that our friends, neighbors, and family knew that their names were greater than a stigmatizing label and that they were blessed. This Lent, I encourage you to eliminate stigmatizing language around mental health, substance use, and HIV. Call people by their name. Tell them they are blessed.
Leave a Reply