What’s in a Name?

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Last night’s news … Boris Johnson visiting soldiers;  Joe Biden talking about American troops… Abba’s Benny and Bjorn discussing their new album… Harry Kane, England football captain, scoring…  

Famous names, famous faces; with fame often goes wealth, power, influence…

When started our ‘Men’s Shed’ one of our first members was ‘Kenneth Williams’. Later ‘John Lewis’, ‘Tony Robinson’ and ‘Michael Jackson’ joined. All have famous names; none have famous faces – or wealth, power or influence. Recently ‘Bruce Lee’ has joined…

I guess my name’s ‘Short’ because my ancestors were of limited stature… Jackson was Jack’s son, Smith was the local blacksmith.

Parents may call their child ‘Kylie’ or ‘Wayne’ after someone famous; ‘Honour’ or ‘Faith’ may reflect their hopes for the child’s future. I prefer the Snow White principle: names reflect actual characteristics… Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy…

In the ancient Genesis stories Jacob’s name becomes Israel because he ‘struggled with God and with man and have overcome.’ Subsequently Israel became a great nation.

This morning’s text (not often preached on!!): ‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute.’ (Ezekiel 16:15) Israel had a good name, fame, wealth, power and influence; she abused them, constantly made bad choices, and was destroyed.

At the beginning of Les Misérables, Jean Valjean asks ‘Who am I?’ He’s a prisoner, a number: ‘24601!’

There’s a trial. An innocent man is about to go to prison in his place. Valjean decides to confess his identity to the court:

Must I lie?
How can I ever face my fellow men?
How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God, I know
I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on

Who am I? Who am I?
I’m Jean Valjean!

As I accept who I am, my name, identity and dependency on God, like Valjean, I gain self-respect, integrity, hope and strength.

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