“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” Colossians 1:1


Calvin Hoe, also known as “Uncle Cal”, is a kumu, artisan, musician, and much more who has been involved in the renaissance of Hawaiian culture for decades.  In speaking about a sense of place Uncle Cal says, “The idea of sense of place is that it’s always important, especially to the Hawaiian people. Kinda like when you introduce yourself, you would say who you are and then you (would) say where you come from. ‘Cuz, that’s important…where you come from. It’s the place that’s important. And then you talk about who you know, and basically you almost get into genealogy, talking about your father, or your auntie.”

In talking about a sense of place, Uncle Cal is talking about identity.  He expresses the importance of naming one’s context from the very beginning.  The personal introduction is rooted in place and in the family.

I greatly appreciate the grounded way I have heard people introduce themselves.  Hearing someone take their place within their ‘aina and their family lineage is a significant testimony.  I imagine that the process of affirming such personal roots must be different for everyone (and may be difficult for those who do not have pleasant memories of their neighborhood or who have difficult feelings about their family of origin).

In the scriptures, Paul refers to his own sense of place when he refers to his hometown of Tarsus.  Yet Paul’s identity is rooted more in his sense of purpose.  In many of the letters written by Paul he, introduces himself by his role.  He is, “Paul, an apostle.” The word, “apostle” in Greek means, “one sent forth” often with a special commission.  Paul’s identity changed when he was called by God and he affirmed this new identity each time he introduced himself.  I believe that this way of introducing himself was meant for the recipient as well as for Paul himself.

I believe Paul intentionally called himself, “an apostle” to remind himself about his calling and his new identity in Christ.

What grounds your identity?  Is it the community that raised you, the school you went to, the family lineage you’re a part of, the work you do, the faith you proclaim, or something else entirely?  My hope is that you would understand yourself as beloved by God.  And while you may now introduce yourself as such (“I am ____, beloved of God”), I hope your heart can hear this truth.  All of us are well acquainted with negative self-talk.  It is right and biblical that we root out identities in the truth that we are loved, redeemed, and empowered.