What’s in a name?

This is a post I wrote for the Fellowship Church of Holland eNews that was sent out on June 27, 2018.

We humans seem built for names. We name everything in the world around us. When we don’t have a name for something or someone, we create one. In our minds, names create images and images create names.

My name is Stephen Braunius. It has been mis-spoken too many times to count. Teachers, on the first day of school, would call me Stephanie or Stefan. Kids would make fun of my last name by calling me Brontosaurus or Brain-ius.

My parents named me after the biblical Stephen, who was martyred for being a believer. In ancient times, our last name would have been “Braun.” The “ius” was added when people were scholars. I find this fascinating because both of my parents were teachers and have PhDs. I, too, became a teacher and still love to teach even though it is no longer my occupation. As a fourth grade teacher, I told my students to call me Mr. B. as a way to keep it simple. I now tell people to just call me Steve and to remember our last name by thinking about Brawny paper towels + “us.” Our names are important and we want to be known by them.

As we progress through the Lord’s Prayer, we now bring to mind the name of God by saying, “Hallowed be Thy name.” Hallowed makes me think of reverence, adoration, holiness, and awe. Jesus, in teaching this prayer, was reminding us that we should use God’s name with care, intentionality, and wonder. This is, after all, the same God who created everything, is everywhere, knows everything, and cares about everyone. Wow! God, hallowed be your name!

What is even crazier to me is that God names us sons and daughters. I feel woefully inadequate for that designation and also grateful that God loves, protects, and cares for us. This gives me a feeling of hope and freedom. What feelings do you have as you reflect on the name of God and who God is? How does this impact who you are?

This Sunday we will hear 1 Peter 3:13-17. Take some time to read it before Sunday and think about how you might be known as a person of hope because you are a child of God. Hallowed be Thy Name.

By the way, feel free to call me Steve.