What’s in a name by Stewart Perry
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday which is an important day in the life of the world wide church, not only because church goers get to watch preachers squirm as they try to explain the difficult doctrine of the Trinity.
The day has extra importance for our church because it is our ‘Feast of Names’. While the outside world generally knows us as the Anglican Church Robina these days, our church was originally named and is still officially named ‘Trinity Anglican Mission’.
Names are important and getting names right is also important… I should know, people have been getting my name wrong my whole life. It’s spelling my name that people seem to have the most trouble with. These days I have a bit of fun with it and tell people that it’s spelled the “proper Scottish way – STEWART”. It still doesn’t stop people getting it wrong though… There have even been times when I’ve been called a completely different name, I’ve got “Stephen” a number of times but I’ve also been called “George” on multiple occasions. I still can’t fathom how you can mis-hear Stewart and come up with George… but it does happen.
I can’t be too critical of people who get my name wrong, however, as I do NOT have a gift for remembering names!
In the bible names are important. To name something is to give it power and prominence. The names in the Old Testament are often deeply layered in meaning and significance. In the New Testament we also see 2 examples of names being changed: Simon becomes Peter and Saul becomes Paul.
Even though I may not be able to remember your name, God knows you and every single person by name: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
When you think about that, it truly is incomprehensible… every single person alive in the world today is known by name by God… and not just that – every single person who has ever been alive at any point in human history is known by name by God… and every person who is yet to be born but who will live at some point in the future is known by name by God. Our limited human minds can not fathom the enormity of that concept.
And that’s a big part of Trinity Sunday to name the incomprehensibleness of God… but I shouldn’t say too much here otherwise there’ll be nothing left for my sermon on Sunday… and I’m sure a few of you are keen to see me squirm as I try to make sense of it.
What does it mean to you, that God knows you by name? Even though I can’t fully comprehend God, God knows me better than I know myself and that concept also blows my mind!
But to know more of God, is to know more of yourself.
While it might be blissful to live in ignorance of yourself from time to time, it’s not a sustainable way both individually and relationally – to live your life in unawareness of self. Your own self awareness allows you to relate to and live well with others. And the best way to become more self aware, in my experience is to become more God aware.
Fortunately there is always something more to be learnt about God.
As we become more aware of God, we become more aware of ourselves and as we become more aware of God and ourselves we should become more aware and relate and live well with others. It is that beautiful interdependent relationship: God, us and others that we recognise on Trinity Sunday but more than that it should be our identity. Not just because it’s Trinity Sunday this weekend, not just because we have the word Trinity in our name, not just because we have said in a vision statement in recent years that we are aspiring to be a church known for its relationships… but because this is who we are created to be.
Happy Feast of Names! I pray you are able to know more of God, more of yourself so you can know more of others.