What is your name?

What Is Your Name?: Series Summary

In much of the ancient world, a person’s name and their identity have been inextricably bound together. What you are called (your name) and who you are (your identity) have historically shaped a person’s life and story. To talk name is to talk identity. 

This fall we are starting a new series titled with this question- “What is your name?” That question, taken from 2 moments in the life of Jacob from the book of Genesis, will drive us over the next few months as we wrestle with issues of identity and the challenge of knowing exactly who we are. We are going to follow Jacob- from his birth in Genesis 25 to the end of his days. And if there ever was a person on planet earth who struggled with his identity- it was Jacob. His story is marked with turmoil in this area, every step along the way. But it ends in beauty that hopefully will guide us deeper into the truth of knowing God and knowing ourselves.

"Names & Pillars" - Genesis 35:16-21 (What is your name?)

With an amazing list of God-encounters behind them, Jacob and his family continue their journey home. However, a couple of hours away from Bethlehem, Rachel goes into sudden labor and delivers Jacob his last born son. In the trauma of the birth, Rachel dies and their journey is marked with a mixture of deep sadness and joy, new death and new life. As this sermon series comes to a close, we will watch Jacob take action out of his new identity. He renames and builds pillars. And in doing so, he shows us all what maturity looks like: taking a new identity and actually finishing strong.


"The Face of God" - Genesis 33:1-20 (What is Your Name?)

After a life-altering wrestling match with God, Jacob emerges with a new name, a new identity and a blessing. However, the time quickly comes for the new man to face up to his old problems. Immediately after leaving Peniel, Jacob comes face to face with Esau for the first time in 20 years. Nonetheless, instead of finding anger, vengeance and retaliation, Jacob is surprised to find a brother who welcomes him home with open arms. This week we will discuss reconciliation, restoration, and the way our Christian identity flows into mending the broken relationships of our life. How does your life reveal the face of God and the face of grace to those who have wronged you?

"Broken for a Blessing" - Genesis 32:22-32 (What is Your Name?)

After months of following Jacob's rollercoaster life, today we find ourselves at the defining moment of our series. While preparing to reunite with his brother Esau, Jacob experiences a deep fear that leads him to carefully scheme in self-protection. He divides his camp in two. He sends a lavish bribe gift ahead of him. And, in one last-ditch effort, he pushes his wives and children across the riverbank to lead the way toward his angry brother. However, in this place of anxiety around the haunting memories from the past, Jacob unknowingly finds himself in an all-night wrestling match with God. As the day breaks the following day, Jacob limps away a changed man with a new name. For Jacob and for everyone, this wrestling match with God stands central to any hope for a changed identity.

"Facing Esau" - Genesis 32:1-21 (What is Your Name?)

Having resolved some problems with the in-laws in Genesis 31, Jacob and his family move on to the future and place God has for them. Jacob soon learns however that his brother Esau is close by and that he intends to meet with Jacob. This is the Esau whose birthright was stolen by Jacob. This is the Esau who once consoled himself with the thought of murdering Jacob. Jacob’s past sin comes very much into the present and poses a threat to his property, his loved ones and his very life.

"Uncle Laban" - Genesis 31:1-55 (What is Your Name?)

Following Jacob's marriage and fourteen years of service to Laban, Jacob is thinking about returning home. But in this passage we see that all three people involved are still struggling to identify themselves. Jacob is looking to himself. Laban is looking to his possessions. And Rachel is looking to others. All are still looking for something other than God to tell them who they are. Laban may have a little Idol, but we all have a god that we are looking to and longing for to fulfill us.

"The ____ We Always Wanted" - Genesis 29:1-30 (What is Your Name?)

In the wake of leaving his home and encountering God in a dream, Jacob eventually reaches his desired destination in the land of the east: Haran. Not only does he find his uncle Laban, but he discovers that Laban has two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Through the story of Jacob, Laban, Leah, and Rachel, we soon discover each one's deepest desire and greatest pursuit - Jacob's passion, Laban's plan, Leah's pain, and Rachel's panic. With each person and their pursuit, we find valuable lessons about who we are, what we want most and the disillusion we are often left with. We are made for desires even greater than we might know.

"The Ladder & the Dream" - Genesis 28:10-22 (What is Your Name?)

This week, Jacob's spiraling story and chaotic life hit rock bottom as he curls up to sleep on a rock in the middle of nowhere. Having fled his family and a brother that wants to kill him, Jacob stumbles into an unknown place and falls asleep in exhaustion. However, in that place of darkness, Jacob encounters a ladder, angels, and the God of his family in a monumental and life-altering dream. This God encounter forever changes the course of his life and begins the process of restoring a new identity for Jacob. This backwards ladder redefines everything we assume about earth, heaven, and the way in-between.

"Run Away" - Genesis 27:41-46, 28:1-5 (What is Your Name?)

Our journey this week centers on the concept and meaning of "home." As Isaac and Rebekah’s family is torn apart by sin and Jacob is forced to flee, he finds himself at the very depth of the crisis- forced to run as a result of sin after sin.  Their "home" is destroyed and all appears lost.  The identity Jacob and his family might derive from the place and relationships found within the "home" is shattered. "Home" becomes a memory of pain and a reminder of what’s been lost. Without his "home," who is Jacob? This forces us to ask, who are we when our foundation of "home" crumbles?

"Stolen Blessing" - Genesis 27:1-45 (What is Your Name?)

We all can appreciate the unmistakable power of a father's blessing. After exchanging the family birthright for a bowl of stew, things don't improve for Esau and his relationship with his younger brother, Jacob. As Isaac reaches old age and senses that his death is near, he calls Esau to prepare food for him before receiving the family blessing. However, Jacob the Heel-grabber strikes again. At the prompting of his mother, Jacob dresses up as his older, hairy brother and tricks his father into bestowing the blessing on him. As we watch this scene unfold, we will not only understand the nature of the blessing but the battle inside all of us to be blessed. Identity is not just about who you are, but whose you are.

"Identity & Appetite" - Genesis 25:27-34 (What is Your Name?)

This week we will continue to follow the twin boys, Jacob and Esau, as they grow up and find their own niche in the family. Esau, the skillful hunter garners the love of his father, Isaac. While Jacob, the quiet younger brother remains in the tents and is loved by his mother, Rebekah. Out of this divided family comes a painful lesson of identity and appetite. In a moment of desperation, Esau sells his birthright to his younger brother for a bowl of red stew. This story, which spirals quickly out of control, provides us with a glimpse into an all-too-common pattern: identity confusion with breeds a momentary lapse of misplaced desire which becomes a lifetime legacy of regret. Our appetites and identity need redemption.


"Struggle" - Genesis 25:19-26 (What is Your Name?)

The beginning of the Jacob story is one that emerges out of a series of struggles in Genesis 25: family struggle, marital struggle, fertility struggle, and sibling struggle. As the story progresses, will be introduced to the family of Isaac and his eventually pregnant wife who gives birth to twin boys: Jacob and Esau. Much like us, Jacob's life begins with grasping and sets into motion a lifestyle of discontent. Together, we will explore our hope for a life free from the grasping reflex within us.