Called By Name
Last year Sandy Wilson, Leo Coco and I created Called by Name, a project that many St. Albanites will remember. We constructed a large orb from heavy copper wire and then attached copper leaves to the outside of orb. Each leaf was stamped with the names or initials of over three hundred people, representing our collective memory of “those we love but see no longer.” In the center of the orb a cradle holds a copper oil lantern. At The Great Vigil of Easter the lantern was ignited during Service of Light (the first of the four liturgical sequences that comprise the Vigil) and Called by Name was raised into the air and remained illuminated, the hammered copper leaves glittering from reflections of the light of the fire within, throughout the night until Easter morning.
The title of the project comes from the hope of the prophet known as Second Isaiah, who preached the promises of God to the people of Israel experiencing exile:
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43.1-2).
The raising of the orb covered with the names of those we love but see no longer at the Vigil is what we call in the church a sacramental act because it conveys, with outward and visible signs, the inward and spiritual grace we believe to be bestowed upon us by the love of God and remembered in public acts of worship and praise. When we illuminate the orb and raise it in the air at the beginning of the Vigil we are confessing our faith in the hope of the resurrection and the belief that we will one day we will be reunited with those we love but see no longer. This Service of Light, in combination with the other three components that complete the liturgy of The Great Vigil of Easter in the Church – The Service of Lessons, The Renewal of Baptismal Vows and the The Holy Eucharist with the administration of Easter Communion – is the most profound confession we make as Christians in the entire liturgical year.
We will use Called by Name again at this year’s Easter Vigil. If you are new to the parish, if you didn’t submit names last year or if you have lost a loved one this year we will be receiving new names until Good Friday (March 25). On Holy Saturday we will attach the new leaves stamped with new names and initials to Called by Name and illuminate and raise it at the Service of Light (8pm, March 26) at the beginning of The Great Vigil of Easter.
If you’d like to submit names please e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org Please add Called by Name to the Subject line.
Looking forward to our Alleluia!