Sunday, October 31, 2010

Names Are Important!

Today I attended the worship service at Sisters Chapel on the campus of Spelman College. Rev. Dr. Renita Weems was the guest preacher and ministered on the thought "Something Within" based on the warning issued from Pilate's wife when Pilate had to make a decision about the fate of Jesus. The sermon was great but it was the larger context behind the sermon.

Dr. Weems reminded us of the voices of those unnamed women in the scripture and provided the name of this woman that the Christian text had ommitted. Claudia was her name according to Jewish records but our Christian text chose to omit her name. Though her name was ommitted, the power of her words lives throughout history. How many times do we feel as if our names are forgotten but the legacy of our work, our thoughts, our encouragements, our challenges are never forgotten. As women it is hard to always be remembered. Though women make great strides in the world, we still live within a patriarchial society. Women still struggle to have their voices heard in the boardroom, bedroom, churches, communities, schools, etc. The work of women transcends lifetimes but their names are often so easily forgotten.

This sermon was a reminder to me not to play shy and play small because of my gender, experience level, physical features or others expectations. As I listened to the message, I was reminded of the name I was given at birth. My name is Evita named after Eva Peron, the First Lady of Argentina. The Spanish derivative of her name is Evita. She was a woman of power and influence, respected and admired among the citizens of Argentina. She was considered the Spiritual Leader of a Nation. She fought on behalf of the least of these in Argentina and won recognition because of her political drive and work within her country.

I was not given this name on accident. Even as I was born into the world, my mother realized the power of a name upon the character of her new born child. As I have lived my life, I have wrestled with understanding my identity, standing up for myself and for what I believed in, for not playing shy or small because others could not handle who I really am. Even at 34, I still wrestle with these challenges but the more I stay in the will of God and seek God to show me who I really am, the more I am able to shed these layers to fully embrace who I am, what I am and all that comes along with being me.

As the sermon shed light on, I do have "Something Within" that empowers and equips me to think, to have an opinion, to share wisdom, to offer encouragement, to help change the future of a society. I am important and have been given an assignment by God to fulfill even if it makes others uncomfortable, upset or envious. I can no longer hide in the shadows just trying to do things quietly because I don't want to ruffle any feathers. I am called to speak Truth to Power when no one else is willing to say a word. I am called to help lead people to The Light in order to bring them out of darkness. All of this is the mantle given to me and I cannot allow lives to be held in the balance because I continue to think I am not important.

I am thankful for the women preachers, theologians, academics and leaders that helped pave the way for women like me. I am thankful for a strong mother who gave me a name which speaks to my destiny. I am thankful and grateful that Evita LaShelle Smith was born, lives and will make a difference in this life. My name and my works are important and therefore I must go forward in all that God has for me.

Names are Important!