Feast of the Navitity of St. John the Baptist (June 24)   3 comments

The Importance of a Name

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The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85 or Psalm 85:7-13

Acts 13:14b-26

Luke 1:57-80

The Collect:

Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The day had come for the circumcision and naming of the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, the latter of which was still mute.  The ceremony was a community event, and custom contained a preference for naming a son after his father or grandfather, usually the grandfather.  Yet this child’s name was unique in his family tree.  The child was to be named John, or, in Hebrew, Jehohanan, which means, “God’s gracious gift.”

As British scholar G. B. Caird wrote in Saint Luke (Pelikan Books then Penguin Books, 1963, with reprints), a child’s name “was closely related to the character and nature of the bearer” and reflected his or her parents’ faith and aspirations for him or her in the Jewish culture of Judea in the late First Century B.C.E.  And while we ponder names, think about these facts:  Zechariah means “the LORD has recalled” and Elizabeth means “oath of God.”  I detect a congruency in these names coming together.

I live in a North American society where names are frequently casual matters.  Sometimes one suspects that the parent(s) did not think about the name ahead of time, especially when seeing the name “Latrina,” which looks suspiciously like a synonym for a restroom.  Many parents should take names more seriously, thinking about what they mean and what they want the child to become.  “What is this child to become?” the neighbors asked themselves about the young John.  That child was literally “God’s gracious gift,” a statement I hope is true of all of us, for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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Posted June 12, 2010 by neatnik2009 in June 24, Saints of the Bible

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