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Quick sermon - God's value in names

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I speak in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost - Amen

How important is your name to you,

            Do you like the name that your parents gave you?

                        Do you in fact use the name given to you or have you decided on using your middle                     name, like our beloved Bishop (D. Ralph Spence)

                                    Or perhaps a nick name or your initials

                                                I have had a few friends that I have to think about what their real                                                   name is, because I am so used to calling them by something else.

                                                            And why is that important?

                        Shakespeare wrote - A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet

But in fact names are very important


I started out today sermon time by praying in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Ghost

            I called upon the very name of God as we started our thoughts and reflections on God’s   word

                        Names provide identity

                                    Names reveal our hopes and desires

Now my name is Paul Matthew Tinker

            Tinker because that, of course, is my family name

                        My parent’s named me: Paul after St. Paul

                                    And Matthew after the gospel writer and disciple

My parent’s didn’t know how I would turn out, but they had hopes and gave me names that reflect their ideals

            I have four kids and before they were born Kelly and I named them

                        Madison Debra Anne

                                    Debra & Anne being the two grandmas

                                                And Madison because we like the name and it is a                                                                derivative of Matthew, my middle name

                        Jackson David Gary

                                    David & Gary again for the two grandpas

                                                And Jack, because to us Jack was a name that we associated with                                                   being a friend and buddy - extended to Jackson for a more formal                                                  alternative

                        Grace Lisa Elizabeth

                                    Lisa after Kelly’s sister, and Elizabeth for two great grandmas

                                                Grace because we believed her to be a gift from God

Now naming our baby, was the most difficult for me, Kelly knew all along, but I didn’t, until I started to look at the meanings of names

            When I looked into the meanings of our first three, the decision became clear:

                        Madison           - Derived from Matthew 'gift of God'

                        Jackson            - Based on John - God has been gracious; has shown favor.

                        Grace               - from the Latin 'gratia', meaning God's favor.

            So the names that Kelly had all along            - Elizabeth or Matthew were perfect

            - as they both mean - Gift of the Lord

                        We were blessed with a beautiful baby boy - a true gift from God

                                    Before any of our kids were born, before they were even in their mother’s                                      womb, we, their parent had hopes and ideals for them

            How much more must God have for each of us…


Now we connect to our Gospel today

                        - it is about many things,

            But one thing that it is definitely about; is the value God placed in names

                        For the last of the Old Testament style prophets, the last prophet to make straight a                       path for the coming of the Lord in the Flesh,

                                    Emmanuel - God’s amongst Us

God instructed Zechariah to go against all Hebrew traditions and to name the child - John

            Which means - Jehovah has been gracious; has shown favor

In John’s names we have the Hope and desires of God of what John is to be

            A miracle child of Zechariah and Elizabeth - two devote Jews well past their prime            parenting age - to them is given a child to be gracious and show favour to        all humanity

Have you ever wondered why John the Baptism plays such a significant role in our Christian year?

            John’s story is relatively short in the bible

                        Yet we hear it before Christmas, in Advent

                                    During lent, each of the three years of the lectionary, with out fail

                                                And we celebrate it now in the summer, six months before Christmas

Well, it is precisely because of what John represents; that He is so pivotal

            In John we have the culmination of all the prophets

                        All their messages reaching a climatic moment in the message from John

                                    All the those that have spoken a message from God, for God

                        In John we have the message of the coming of the saviour of world

In John

            and as indicated by his name

                        We hear the message of God being gracious to the whole world

Once Zechariah had written “His name is John.” all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

John is so pivitoal and important to our Christian calendar that he comes up significantly three times in the year because…

                        His role is our role

                                    We are all called, in some shape or form, to proclaim the coming of the Lord

Remember the parting words of our Lord - recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 just before his ascension

            Jesus came to them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the           Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have             commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end."

            You must go

                        All nations

                                    I am always with you

            In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit - Amen                            

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