What’s in a name?


Jean Newell, Associate Pastor, Sun Lakes United Methodist Church

Names! Have you ever had problems with names? Many years ago when my children were growing up, we had two dogs. There were days in which I found myself reeling off five names in rapid order before finally calling the right one! At the time, I attributed struggling to find the right name to multi-tasking, as many a parent is prone to do.

These days, I’m not chasing three kids and two dogs, but I still find myself struggling to come up with the right name. One night, a couple of weeks before Christmas, my son invited me to join him and my grand-daughter for dinner for “Taco Tuesday.” While enjoying our tacos, we were watching the movie classic White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. There’s one scene where the two female leads are doing what they call their “Sisters” act. I was trying to explain to my son that although one of the women, Vera Ellen, was a dancer, the other woman wasn’t. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with the other woman’s name. I first saw the movie when it came out in 1954 and have seen it countless times since, but that night, watching it with my son and granddaughter, I couldn’t pull the other woman’s name from my memory. Finally, to ease my frustration, my son said, “Oh, you mean Rosemary Clooney?” Rosemary Clooney, indeed!

I have trouble with names, but I am so glad that we worship a God who doesn’t!

Scripture reveals ancient Hebrews understood their relationship with God as that between a shepherd and his sheep. “Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” – Psalm 100:3. A good shepherd not only protects his or her flock from predators, but he or she also cares for them, making sure they have food and water. Shepherds know their sheep so well they can call them by name. Thus, when Jesus referred to himself as a “good shepherd” – John 10:11, His followers understood what He was saying about their relationship. Like a good shepherd, Jesus knows those who follow Him. He cares for them, guides them, and calls them by name. As this new year begins, be assured Christ, the Good Shepherd, knows your name and is calling you to follow!