Community in Action January 6, 2021

God said to him, “Your name is Jacob,

but you will no longer be called

Jacob; your name will be

Israel, so he named him

Israel (which means he wrestles with God).

Genesis 35:10

    When I was in seventh grade I started studying German. My teacher gave all of us German names to go by in class. I thought Rudolf would be a great name for me. I could use the nickname Rudy. I wasn’t thinking of the reindeer, but the actor, Valentino. But my teacher had other ideas. He named me Reinhold.

    Reinhold. Who ever heard of anyone named Reinhold? It had kind of a hard harsh tone to it. Yet, years later I learned about Reinhold Neibuhr a great American Reformed theologian and ethicist. He is the one credited with making the Serenity Prayer popular. What better legacy to follow than a man who was devoted to God and sought to promote peace in the world.

    Names of course do not make the person, but they can be inspirational. Names of people whom we admire or we want to honor become names of our children.

    But some names can be miss leading. When I learned that Martin Luther King Jr. was not born with that name, he was actually christened Michael, but is father changed his name. His father began calling himself Martin Luther King, Sr. and his son, the same, but of course junior when junior was five years old. I thought what an inspiration to be named after the great sixteenth century reformer, Martin Luther.             

    Then I found out Michael senior had been given his original name by his mother named after the archangel. His father, James King, had wanted to name him after his two brothers Martin and Luther, but these two parents agreed to call their son “Mike.”

    When James was on his death bed he asked “Mike” to change his name to Martin Luther, which he did, and the new Martin Luther King Sr. called his own son by that name combination as well. Even though Martin Luther King Jr. was named after his two great uncles he lived up to being a great reformer himself.

    Names do not make a  person, but they can bring us an inspiration for which we can strive. As a follower of Jesus we have been given another name than the one we are called. It is “Child of God.” This is certainly a name to which we can aspire.

    As we look to this year of 2021 at how we can best cultivate the Spirit in our journey on this earth let us embrace the name which we have been given, “Child of God,” and let’s remember there is one name above every name and that is Jesus Christ.

    “And at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, . . .and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord," (Philippians 2:10-11a)

    Seeking to live up to my name with you,

    Pastor Randy

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