What’s in a name? Sermon Text

This Wednesday will be Chris’ and my anniversary – we’ll have been married 5 years. For the first ten years we lived in sin, but being married is just as much fun.

I remembered we did think about changing our names, Hydes-Baker, Baker-Hydes, but in the end we decided that for us it didn’t matter so we didn’t bother. Not that names aren’t important. But when you start double barreling or changing names you can have problems. For example.

If Yoko Ono had married Sonny Bono, she’d be Yoko Ono Bono.

If Dolly Parton had married Salvador Dali, she’d be Dolly Dali.

If Oprah Winfrey had married Depak Chopra, she’d be Oprah Chopra.

If Cat Stevens had married Snoop Doggy Dogg, hey! It could happen!, he’d be Cat Doggy Dogg.

If Olivia Newton-John had married Wayne Newton, then divorced him to marry Elton John, she’d be Olivia Newton – John Newton John.

If Sondra Locke had married Elliott Ness, then divorced him to marry Herman Munster, she’d become Sondra Locke Ness Munster.

If Snoop Doggy Dogg had married Winnie the Pooh, he’d be Snoop Doggy Dogg Pooh.

If Woody Allen had married Natalie Wood, divorced her and married Gregory Peck, divorced him and married Ben Hur, he’d be Woody Wood Peck Hur.

If you think they’re funny then you should look up some of the real ones on the internet.

Names orten define us, just as we define them, and come from many sources.

Names can be taken from an animal, like Caleb from dog; Dan from lion’s whelp; Achbor from mouse and Parosh from flea.

Names can also be associated with nature like Geshem from rain; Barak from lightening.

Names are often a reflection of who someone is:

Esther is Persian for Star

michael – is a question – Who is like god?

Elizabeth – Worshiper Of God

Eve – giver of Life

Adam – Adam = Red earth and adamu = to make – was he a red head?

Peter – Rock
Stephen – Garland Crown

Matthew – Gift of god

Jan, janet and jane – God is good, or God is gracious

William – Resolute, Brilliant
Mary – Beloved, star of the sea.

Philip – Lover of horses.

Christopher – bearing Christ

Linda, Pretty, soft, tender
Kevin – Well born, handsome child

Victoria – the conquorer – taken from the Roman Goddess Victoria – the Goddess who decided which side would win a battle.

keith – Celtic for Forest or wood.

Simon – Hearkened, or listener.
Robert – comes from the name Hrodebert which means bright flame.

Isla – Scottish – Literelly Island, but more accurately safe haven.

Charles – Free Man.

Sarah – Princess (One of the very first names in humanity)

Dameon – Greek Damionas – a 4th century saint. It means to tame, subdue, ones self in friendship.

Nigel – Champion, cloud, passionate

Anthony – Highly praiseworthy

Arthur – King and Bear

Joanna – God is gracious

Petula – The seeker

Wendy – Fair skinned, blessed, friend.

If I haven’t mentioned yours then look it up when you get home.

Jesus – which is the English form of the Greek form of the Aramaic name Yeshua – which itself is a contracted form of the name Yehoshua – or Joshua. It means “Jehovah is Generous, or Jehovah saves”

Names are important – in a way they define us just as we help to define the name.

Jeremiah 1:4&5

God knows you completely. Before you were born God knew your name. Before you were born God knew if you would be short or tall, stocky or slight, what color your eyes would be, what color your skin would be, what gender you would be, what your sexuality would be, what your gifts would be, what your strengths and weaknesses would be, and more besides.

Rev. Christine Robinson’s translation of our scrtpture reading this evening, Psalm 139, helps us get to the heart of it.

You are closer to me than I am, God
You shine through my chaos and confusion
from my innermost self.

You know my week points and my hurt places,
the habits I resort to and the goals that sustain me.
You well up in me
You hold me in the palm of your hand.

I can’t quite grasp this – it’s just too big.
Understanding flits by in the corner of my mind
and is quickly gone.

You’re in all of this from the big bang to
the outer edge of space and time.
You are the seed at my center from my birth, to now,
to my death, and beyond.
Deep in every growing bone, every forming love,
every struggled thought.

There is nowhere that you that you are not.

Beautiful. She helps us to understand that God doesn’t just know our name – God knows everything about us.

Which means that God knows when the big changes in our life occur, and is there for us. More than that, God affirms change. Sometimes even with a change of name.

In Genesis 17: 1-6

God told him, “I am changing your name. It is no longer Abram’ (Exalted Father) but Abraham’ (Father Of Nations)

In Genesis 35:10 tlb, after Jacob wrestled with the angel God said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob (Grabber), but Israel, (One Who Prevails With God).

Simon was renamed by Jesus ‘Peter’. Simon means ‘he has heard’ and Peter comes from the Latin word meaning ‘Rock’. It’s where we get the term ‘petrify’ which means literally to turn to stone.

Saul met Christ on the road to damascus and his name became Paul. Saul means ‘Asked for’ or ‘Prayed for’ and Paul means ‘Humble’ or ‘small’.

God has a name for everyone – no one is excluded,

Isaiah 56: 4-5

Perhaps your name is the only thing you really own. Every thing on earth eventually passes to dust. It is the nature of this world that nothing lasts. But your name is yours – you take it with you. Not only does it help to define who you are but you help to define it.

Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus is talking to people who believe that in order to have a good name with God you need to pretend that you’re somebody that you’re not. Jesus is talking to a people who have a protocol for everything – birth, dating, marriage, children and death – everything. But in trying to be something that your not the very meaning of your name is lost. In pretending to be someone that you’re not the very salt that is the flavor of your life is washed away and what is left is not worth anything.

Your name is important – not just the word, and what that means, but the name you make for yourself. Your name is really the only thing you will ever own. Be proud of it, because after all, it belongs to a child of God. Amen.

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