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Notes from Steve:

-Sermon Notes-

September 25, 2022

 

 “There’s Something About That Name”

 

(Genesis 17:1-8, Philippians 2:1-11, Matthew 1:18-21)

     When our first grandson was given the name Aidan, the name was not familiar to me, but over the past few years the name Aidan has become quite popular.  It is interesting how names come and go; for example, the three most popular names in 1935 were (boys) Robert, James and John (girls) Mary, Susan and Linda.  The most popular baby names of 2014 are (boys) Liam, Noah and Ethan (girls) Emma, Olivia and Sophia. Quite a change, eh?

     Our names have meaning; for example, Steven means “crowned one.”  What about the name of Jesus? As our passage from Matthew explains to us this morning, the name Jesus is associated with salvation.  Names have significance-from today’s Genesis passage we find God changing Abram’s name (Abram means “noble father”) to Abraham (which means “father of many nations.”)  In the New Testament, Jesus changed Simon’s name (which means “he has heard”) to Peter, which means “rock.”

      Paul also emphasized the importance of names in his letter to the Philippians.  One of the reasons Paul wrote this letter was to remind them of the importance of being like-minded and united with Christ; in our unity with Christ we are able to experience joy and contentment even while enduring hardship.  The word “joy” is mentioned 16 times in this letter, even though the author of the letter (Paul) was in prison at the time of its writing.  The words we find in verses 9 and 10 in today’s reading emphasize the importance of the church at Philippi aligning themselves with the name of Jesus: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow….”

     This morning as we consider the topic of names, I invite you to think of the names you have been assigned by others.  For example, to my grandchildren, I am not Steve-I am “Bampy.”  For my grandkids, that name defines me as someone who loves, cares and treasures them.  They define me this way because of how I speak and act toward them.  I am also known as husband, brother, father, pastor and friend.  These names have been assigned to me by various people, and they associate me with these names according to how I am in relationship with them.

     I remind you that as people who align ourselves with Jesus, we hopefully have two additional names assigned to us, depending on how people perceive us-disciple and apostle.  Disciple means “one who follows,” while apostle means “one sent out.”  As was the case with the 12 disciples who followed Jesus and learned from him, we too follow Jesus and learn from him through personal discipleship and as we gather on Sunday mornings together.  And as was the case with the original disciples, we too are to become apostles as we are sent out into our community and beyond, inspired by our fellowship with Jesus and each other. 

     As we participate in the sacrament of communion, we are reminded that one of the ways we understand communion is that by participating in communion we align ourselves with the name of Jesus when we take what symbolizes him (the bread and juice) and make them part of us by consuming them.  As we celebrate communion this morning, may we celebrate the new covenant established by God through Christ, and align ourselves with his name. 

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