Friday, July 15, 2011

Naming Names

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Mark 3:7-19

Names are really important, no matter what family or culture you are from. We spent a great deal of time deciding what to name our children, anxious not to honor one family member over another so that no ones feelings were hurt. Our youngest, Phoebe, was born on Bastille Day, July 14th. When my husband came home from the hospital after she was born he jokingly informed her two anxious older sisters that we had named her Marie Antoinette. Big mistake - tears and drama insued. Instead our youngest was named Phoebe Cordelia, after no one but herself. My Greek professor would come up to her when she was new and shout "radiance" to remind me what her name meant in Greek. Names speak to us of the hopes and dreams as well as circumstances and character. They tell us about who we are and where we have come from, and sometimes where we are going.

Jesus named his disciples - chose them one by one - and then called Zebedee's boys the "sons of thunder" or Boanerges. He must have seen something amazing in the two of them, and maybe even a challenge in their presence. James and John have always intrigued me because of their very common names turned unique and special. One can only imagine what they were like together on the road. They set themselves apart as lively and full of life. Can't imagine if the others were jealous of their special name, but it was important, this naming, and is recorded in the Gospels for us to know.

Today, when I think about the power of names I am reminded that we are all named as God's, children of a loving Creator, and blissfully unaware of what power that is to be named beloved of God. We may all struggle with our daily personal challenges, but we are all to remember that however else we call ourselves, whatever nicknames we acquire, however rude the remarks about us get, God has called us each by name and loves us each completely. May we rest assured this day of the love that is ours from inception through eternity.

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