I Have Called You By Name
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1 (NRSV)
As I look back on my life, I am convinced that God was calling me into ministry in ways I did not see at the time. During my childhood years, we were members at a small mission congregation in a rural par of western New York. Mission congregations often have a bit more freedom in “getting ‘er done” than more established churches and I remember how proud I was that my mother was the first woman Sunday School Superintendent and the first woman on our church council. There were eight of us in my Sunday school class – 7 boys and me. What great future training!
Bulletin covers were of special interest to me – creative ways to communicate a message, I guess. In the early 1970s, one cover, with the words of Isaiah 43:1 artistically stylized on it, touched me to such a degree that I turned it into a banner which hung in my bedroom and which I have kept all these years. It reminds me that I was called by God, by name, through Baptism. I belong to God, in an ultimate loving way. But God has also called me to serve.
My ministry has called me to places where I was the only woman or to places where women in leadership are few in number. But rather than approach such ministry in trepidation, I remember Who has called me, Who knows my name and values who I am.
Deaconess Robie Hillhouse, Hickory, NC