What’s In A Name? | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
January 2012

What’s In A Name?

By Rori Blakeney (SEJ)

I have been intrigued for the last few weeks with the idea, “What’s in a Name?”

This all started as I was reading Isaiah 9:6 during the Advent Season. It is one of my favorite Advent Scripture because of the structure of the text. It is like a symphony. Every time I read it . . . I can hear the build up to the penultimate moment.

But, Isaiah never gives him a name. It simply says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

So what’s in a name?

I think there is something powerful in a name. I think a name in many ways shapes our identity. It gives us a sense of purpose . . . a calling if you will. Consider your own name. What does it mean?

I remember serving in a church where there was a youth by the name of Bethany. She once told me that her mom named her Bethany because that was where Jesus’ friends, Mary, Martha and Lazrus lived. Bethany went on to say that her mother said she always wanted Jesus to have a place to live in her heart. What a powerful story about what’s in a name.

Recently, a colleague shared with me a story about her youth group. She said as the small group of teens who hardly knew each other, gathered together to celebrate Christmas, and make plans for a continuing group, the oldest noted, “We need a name! And we should pick out a Bible verse to put on the back of the T-shirts.” Before long, he had a suggestion, “What about Young Disciples?” There were nods of approval and a leader suggested adding the name of the church. Meanwhile, the youngest of the group remembered some names of groups and services he had seen using numbers signifying specific scriptures. “Is there a verse with 4:12 we can use?” he asked as he began thumbing through a Bible, checking chapter 4 verse 12 of each book. A third young man, decided to try another track. He texted his mom asking her if there were any verses referring to young disciples. The only one she could think of said, “Let no one despise your youth.” As the leader started jotting the verse on the board, she asked him to find out the reference numbers. 1 Timothy 4:12!

For this group, a name meant equality. There is power in a name. We, who believe in Christ, declare we are Christians.

So as we continue to live the Christmas story, I ask you, what’s in a name?