What’s in a name?

I once knew a lady who never got round to giving her dog a name.

She had started by calling him “Aye you” and eventually the ‘name’ stuck!

I don’t think the dog knew or cared as long as walks and food were forthcoming. But we would be miffed not to have a proper name or, if we had one, not to be called by it.

There are many names in the Bible and some have interesting meanings.

Abraham means ‘great father’ or ‘father of a multitude’.

David means ‘beloved’ and John means ‘God is gracious’ while Mary probably means ‘rebellion’.

Some children today are given names that are imaginative, occasionally embarrassing.

The biblical names reflected something in the characters of those who bore them.

Jesus gave the fisherman Simon a new name, ‘Peter’ as one day he would be the ‘rockman’ of the new Church.

Jesus’ own name, suggested by the angel Gabriel to Mary his mother, means ‘God is Saviour’.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he told them to address God in this way, “Our Father”.

In Aramaic (Jesus’ language), this is Abba or ‘Daddy’, the term used by a child of an earthly father.

This means that we can identify the God of all creation as close to us and as concerned for us as the best of dads.

What’s in a name? Our name identifies us uniquely, and “Our Father” identifies God. So not, “Oh God”, but “Our Father”, the name and identity that Jesus shows and shares with us.