December 20, 2011

Dec. 20: What’s in a name?


By Ruth Hochstetler, Good Library day circulation supervisor
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

I have sisters-in-law who are elementary school teachers. With the start of each new school year, our family is entertained by the unusual or ridiculous names of children in their classrooms. A familiar name gets an update with a unique spelling, or a child is saddled with a long title, or, as the present trend seems to be, children are named for an object. Listed under celebrity baby names, I found Apple, Banjo, Ocean and Moon Unit.

I was named after a woman in the Bible, and my name means “companion; friend.” I like to think that I’ve become someone who resembles the person for whom I was named. An endearing nickname secured my sense of belonging among family and close friends. Names do matter.

In today’s Scripture, Isaiah predicts the birth of a child who will come with great mission and purpose. He will be as a light in the darkness, and a deliverer who causes rejoicing. He will govern, and his kingdom will have no end. A single name for this baby is too confining. He will be called:

Wonderful Counselor
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace.

Jesus’ birth fulfilled this prophecy and for those of us who have received adoption into his family, we know how well these names fit him. The times I’m confused or in need of guidance, Jesus counsels me through Scripture or through other believers inspired by his words. God is mighty in creation, and in working things out for good in the messiness of my life. To call Jesus, Father, means we are family, and I belong to him. I even have the privilege of using his nickname, Abba. This Father’s care for me is lasting and forever.

When life is uncertain, when insecurity makes me anxious, when conflict brings turmoil and when worry has seized control of my mind, I run to the Prince of Peace to find refuge and help. In this place of rest, those who struggle to make peace with their given name will find Jesus calling them Loved and Chosen.

There is a glorious King above heaven and earth who came down into our world so we could be familiar with the one whose name is above all names. I am awed and filled with wonder.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV)
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.



Comments (7)

  1. Excellent devotional Ruth! Christmas greetings from your friends in Florida!

    Doug Gehman December 20, 2011 |
  2. As a fellow Ruth, I enjoyed today’s writing. I am an elementary teacher and a student in my class is named Noemi. I told her that her name in English is Naomi and then I told her how we are connected in the Bible story. Her brother has a well known bible name and she knew his story. She was happy to learn she has a great story behing her name, too.

    Ruth J. December 20, 2011 |
  3. I love the contrasts in the scriptures of darkness and then light, and the power and might of our savior, who at the same time is the bringer of peace and counsel. Thank you for your thoughts today.

    Lisa Yost December 20, 2011 |
  4. I appreciated your writing very much, Ruth. It speaks to where i am just now and includes everyone of faith. Merry Christmas

    KathrynlSherer December 20, 2011 |
  5. Ruth, thank you for your meaningful devotional. You do live up to your name, and your words offer guidance and comfort.

    Lois Martin December 21, 2011 |
  6. You are right – names do matter. When I was a child, I went by the nickname Betsy for a little while (currently, I go by my first name, Elizabeth). Now, ten years later, I have met someone else who goes by my brief childhood nickname – a namesake and role model. Sharing a name with this person makes me feel even closer to her than I would otherwise. Reading your devotional helps me connect this with the many names of God and what they mean.

    Also, I wanted to say that I found the sentence about running to the Prince of Peace inspiring. I am in that time right now – a time of stress, in school and elsewhere – and I often forget that Jesus is always there, waiting to give rest to me and all others who need it.

    Elizabeth S.O. December 21, 2011 |
  7. Thank you, Ruth. Makes me wonder, though, what that “endearing nickname” of yours might be. You do, indeed, live out your given name, ‘friend.’ Happy Holidays!

    Jim Brenneman, GC President December 23, 2011 |