Updated: Jan 31
What’s in a name?
I’m sure you remember the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue. A boy with a girl’s name. That was a made up scenario and because of that, it was humorous. A boy named Sue … ridiculous.
Would you think it was funny if you had to grow up with a name your parents thought was unique, but all your classmates and friends thought was just odd? Parents who didn’t want a child named like all the others being born, those with the popular names of the day? Parents who had to think up something that had unique meaning that only they knew? Something not found in a baby names book?
How do you think you would feel every time you had to fill out an employment application, and under “name,” you had to write …
Moon Unit? Diva Muffin? Sailor Lee? Moxie Crimefighter? Lark Song? Banjo? Audio Science? Jermajesty? Seven Sirius?
How about “Lé-Mongello” … which is Lemon Jello as one word?
All of these are real names given to their children by movie stars and singer-musicians, so (hopefully) those children will never have to seek work and fill out an application. Still, do you think some will have their names changed?
The reading from Hosea tells us about some horrendous baby names:
The name Gomer, the prostitute Hosea was told to take as a wife, comes from the Hebrew verb gamar. The basic meaning is ‘to complete, finish,’ but it can also be used to indicate a sudden stop or termination.
God told Hosea to marry a woman by this name to symbolize the sudden termination of the relationship He had with the Children of Israel. The living God had been their heavenly father, but the children had grown up and decided not to maintain the time share agreement their forefathers had signed off on.
The name Jezreel means ‘God sows’
Jezreel is the name of a valley in Israel and the name Hosea was told to give to his first son with Gomer. Jezreel was the fertile land God gave to the children of Israel, symbolic of how they could bear other children to the living God. It symbolized where God let his children grow strong and be protected. The first son of Hosea would symbolize that God had sewn a marriage between his prophet and a nation that chose to sleep with many other prophets.
The name Jehu consists of two elements: 1) Jah, which in turn is an abbreviated form of the name of the Lord: YHWH. 2) The nominative pronoun hu’, meaning he, she or it. Thus, the king of Israel bore the name meaning ‘the LORD is he,” But, Jehu was not living up to that name; or, perhaps, Jehu though he was God and could do no wrong?
The name Lo-Ruhamah consists of two parts. The first part is the word lo, meaning, “no or without.” The second part comes from the root raham, meaning to love deeply or have mercy.
This means the second son of Hosea and Gomer was named ‘No mercy,’ which was symbolic of an Israel that had turned away from God, shunning His compassion. It sought ‘no mercy’ from the One God.
The name Lo-Ammi means ‘not my people.’
The name of the third son of Hosea symbolized the people of Israel were no longer children … they had grown up. They had the right of free will … to choose not to have the One God in their lives anymore. They chose “not” to be God’s people.
All of these names have meaning, and that meaning says, “The children of the living God” had broken their agreement to serve the LORD.
It can seem like God disowned the Children of Israel.
However, they would be overrun by the Assyrians, by bow, sword, war, horses, and horsemen, because of their own failures. God knew that would be the outcome … without His protection.
The people of Israel would be scattered around the globe, like the sand of the sea, neither measured or numbered … as yearly census’ by nations do. God knew that would be the outcome … without His protection.
God didn’t disown the people of Israel, because he would later send his son to save them. Later, after they had some time to learn a few life lessons.
By the way, the name Jesus is the Greek transliteration of either the name Joshua or its shortened form Jesuha. It means YHWH Will Save.
The Gospel reading from Luke is continuing this Father – Child relationship theme.
We begin by the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus is often called “rabbi,” meaning teacher; and a father’s role is to teach his sons. Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer.
After Jesus had told his symbolic children how to pray, he asks who would not give a child what he asked for? He had just done that.
Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened” … to all children asking God to be led correctly.
Those of us with children know what it is like walking through the grocery store or Walmart. “Momma, buy me this. Momma, buy me that.”
Jesus told the parable of the friend coming by after bedtime, saying, “Friend, gimme this.”
“Go away!,” he was told. “No!,” is what we keep telling our children.
The last time I was in Walmart, on the way to the garden center I walked down the aisle where the toy super heroes are sold. Each way, to and from, I passed a different child standing there marveling at those action figures. I could see their eyes, and I could read each of their minds. Both wished he could have one of those toys. They each had a pure and natural desire for something new, something to play with. Children thirst for outlets for their imaginative minds. They each probably went to petition momma for a super hero action figure.
As a Rolling Stones song says, “You can’t always get what you want, but … if you try … sometimes … you just might find … you get what you need.”
God is our heavenly father. He listens to our prayers. He leads us to find what we need. He puts doors before us, more than the super hero toys we lust for. When we stop crying over an imagined loss, and actually open one of those doors, we not only get what we asked for, in get it in ways we never ever imagined we could have asked for.
Just as Jesus taught his disciples the lessons they needed to know, after he ascended to his Father’s house, the disciples became fathers.
They grew up and had children of their own. Their children were the first members of the first Christian churches. Those “fathers” taught their children about Jesus and the way to God, through the Holy Spirit.
They weren’t blood relatives, like the sons of Hosea and Gomer, but they were family. Families in Christ. Fathers and sons … bishops and priests … shepherds and flock … all related by the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit.
Paul never knew the man Jesus, but he knew the Spirit of Jesus and became an Apostle. Paul also became a father to the children of the churches he founded.
By the way, the name Paul means, “small, humble.” He changed it to that. It was Saul, meaning, “asked for.”
Paul never met any of the Colossians personally, but he wrote a letter to them. He wrote the letter because Paul had fathered Epaphras (his name, in Greek, means “foamy”), who in turn had fathered the church in Colossae. Paul, then, wrote to the Colossians more like a grandfather sending a card to his grandchildren.
Some of us are grandparents. Hopefully, many of us have wonderful memories of our times spent with loving grandparents. There seems to be a generation gap that makes grandparents and grandbabies a good fit. Parents are often busy raising a family, especially if there are several children and/or if both parents work. Grandparents often have a little more time on their hands, and can help their children by babysitting. I don’t have any yet, but I delight in the thought of grandchildren.
Paul said to the Colossian grandbabies, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit.”
The call of the adult world can spoil the child inside us … always wanting to get out, but kept captive by adult mentality. Don’t let yourself get caught in an adult world that forces you to turn away from God. Paul then said, “Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking.”
Grandfatherly advice: The best laid plans of mice and men … so often they go awry.
Paul said, “You were dead in sins” until “God made you alive.” He said we are a “growth that is from God.” We are born of God, as God’s children … not God’s adults, with free will to do as we wish … like Jehu … grown to act like “he is Lord.”
Jesus said, “Know how to give good gifts to your children” so “the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.”
The Holy Spirit keeps us children … the children of God … in the family of Christ.
As long as we remain in the family, and ask Our Father for help, and listen for His wisdom, our names will be written in Heaven.
And God likes our names … no matter how funny they may be.