“And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
- Paul to the church in Corinth
A new friend and client was regaling me with some of the extraordinary history of the early Coptic that his family emanates from. He recently told me about how they give a new name to a person before they enter the priesthood in the Coptic faith. It is such a rich and compelling picture that I haven’t been able to get it out of mind.
(Disclaimer: I am sure this is mostly right, but I am sure it has migrated a bit in my recollection. )
An Australian college philosophy professor and avowed atheist went on a journey after the death of his mother and found faith and Coptic Christianity. The process of becoming a Coptic Monk meant that he had to go through training and an extraordinary ceremony to become a new man with a new identity.
In many ways like a funeral, he was covered with a shroud, the old man was pronounced dead, the shroud was removed and he was given a new name: “Lazarus”. Father Anthony El Lazarus is now a Coptic monk living in seclusion in the Red Sea mountains, in a 4th-century monastery about 200 miles southeast of Cairo, Egypt.
There is a fascinating short documentary on Vimeo about his story. (And yes, the irony of his new name being Lazarus is not lost on me.)
It is pretty interesting that a traditional marriage ceremony involves the removing of a veil and the taking of a new name by the bride. And that Moses was so transformed by the experience of encountering God that he had to veil his face because of the overwhelming evidence of that glory on him.
What you might find even more interesting is that I have witnessed something similar to the Coptic renaming dozens of times:
At men’s retreats I co-lead - we send them out to ask God about what other names or identities He knows them by. The dozens of stories I have now heard are almost beyond belief and description.
At LifePlan retreats and other stuff I help lead - The faces…clarity, new identity, inspiration, the tears…the new understanding of who God says they are. I did this with some college kids recently. Some of most rewarding things you will ever experience.
And, believe it or not, in select corporate coaching situations with business folks. I’ve got some awesome stories about that as well.
Who you are at the deepest level is something that even predates your name and the identity you have grown into. The Coptic’s are not creating a new identity as much as they are claiming the deeper truth of a person’s identify. There is something glorious and important about your life that is crucially important for you to know.
A new name.
A new identity.
The glory of your creator manifested in His creation.
Do you know who you are?
Deep beyond deep, what is the truest thing about you?
How crucial do you think it is to know that?
If you have found that, how are you living into that inspirational identity?