Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not your usual naming ceremony

Birth of John the Baptist - Alexandre Bida
Birth of John the Baptist - Alexandre Bida

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 1:57-80

TO CHEW ON: "And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote saying, 'His name is John.' So they all marvelled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke praising God." Luke 1:63,64

A person's name in Bible times held more significance for them than our names do for us. A Holman Bible Dictionary article explains:
"The biblical concept of naming was rooted in the ancient world's understanding that a name expressed essence. To know the name of a person was to know that person's total character and nature. Revealing character and destiny, personal namrs might express hopes for the child's future…" Kandy Queen-Sutherland, "Naming," Holman Bible Dictionary - read entire article.

Mother Elizabeth was the first to demur when the person responsible for the mechanics of registering the baby's name assumed everything would go as normal. This illustrates two more customs around naming in the Bible:
1] the task of naming generally fell to the mother.
2] it was a practice to give the baby the name of a relative, often the grandfather or father.

When father Zacharias supported Elizabeth's surprising name choice of John, the bystanders "all marveled." But an even greater surprise was just moments away. For no sooner had Zacharias written "His name is John," than "Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed."

It was as if God had held Zacharias' power of speech hostage until he demonstrated he truly believed what the angel had said (Luke 1:13) by getting out of the rut of what everyone expected.

Does God still work that way today, testing our willingness to believe and obey by asking us to leave the rut of the ordinary, the safe, and the comfortable? To go on that mission trip? To accept that assignment that feels beyond our ability? To work towards fulfilling that dream that seems way too big to come true?

I love how Zacharias' compliance led to his speech not only returning but returning in a river of praise, adoration, and prophecy. Who knows what will be unleashed when we step out in unquestioning obedience?

PRAYER: Dear God, please strengthen my trust in You so I am unafraid to step out of familiar ruts when You tell me to. Amen.

MORE: Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Today the church celebrates John the Baptist's birth. The liturgy for this day begins with this collect:

"Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Just for interest's sake, I looked up the meaning of the two names at play here:

Zacharias means the Lord recalled, or the Lord remembered.

John means Yahweh is gracious.

What does your name mean? 


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

Bookmark and Share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...