What's in a name?


There's a lot in a name. We all have names. Names we hear in moments of peace or panic. Names we are proud of and names we are ashamed of. All of these are significant, right? They shape our perspective and precede us even if not publicly. Names provide meaning, hope and sometimes declaration.

Names provide meaning

Names are important. Names define our trajectory. Names shape how we think about ourselves. We choose names for our children with intention. Character traits we hope they will become. Or names that tell the story of their existence. We named our daughter Hannah, which means God's grace, as a reminder of that very thing. And our hope is that she will be God's grace in the world.

Names provide hope

People throughout history have worn names that brought hope by what they represented: The Blessed Mother Theresa or Richard the Lionheart. Even more have worn titles that bear hope: mother, warrior, servant, peacemaker or friend. These names instill hope in us. They reconcile our desire for the not yet with the already.

Names declare

And sometimes names declare. They declare hope. They declare truth. They declare what is to come and what has come.

So when we see the list of names given to this one who comes, they describe the litany of hopes and promises for this baby. Counselor, strong, prince, God saves, God with us. We can take heart in these names, because unlike the names we carry that can be picked up and discarded, these names are truth.

Here is the reading for the eighth day of Advent:

Isaiah 9:6

For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.

Matthew 1:21

She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.

Luke 1:31

You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,

be called ‘Son of the Highest.

Acts 4:12

Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.

1 Timothy 1:15

Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.

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