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Thursday Service – Dumfries Northwest Church; 23 April 2015: NAMES

Philippians 2

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
 did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
 by taking the very nature of a servant,
 being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
 he humbled himself
 by becoming obedient to death—
 even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
 and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
 in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
 to the glory of God the Father.

imageI’ve got a new granddaughter, born three and a half weeks ago. Her name is Maeve.

Her older sister, Cora, who is five, initially had problems getting the baby’s name right, and suggested to her mum, “Why don’t we just call her ‘Strawberry’?”
Names can sometimes be confusing.

I was at school with a lad called Hamish Marshall. But he signed his name “James” – “Hamish” being the Gaelic for “James”.
I can sympathise. I too have a first name that confuses many people. I was christened ‘Alexander’ but am known as ‘Sandy’ which is a shortened form – or a diminutive, to give it it’s proper description. ‘Sandy’ always reminds me of third-rate Scottish comedians or collie dugs!

My uncle was also Alexander, but was known as ‘Alec’ and I have a friend who is ‘Alex’ with an ‘x’

I once looked up a dictionary of names and to my horror discovered that another version is ‘Sanders’ – maybe, on hindsight, it is a bit more upmarket that ‘Sandy’

In Gaelic, Alexander becomes ‘Alastair’ or ‘Alasdair’

I once met a Russian lady at university, who told me that in her country, a version of Alexander is ‘Sacha’ – (Sacha Distel – French singer)

There’s a Nothampton Town football player – previously with Aberdeen – who rejoices in the name of Zander Diamond, as does Alexander Armstrong, the comedian and presenter of the TV quiz show “Pointless”, who is also known to his close friends as “Zander”.

Rather fancy that moniker!

And I’m sure there are many more variations on my particular name – as there are on so many others:

Robert can be Rob, Robbie, Bob or Bobby, Bert or Bertie. Catherines are sometimes known as Kate, or Katy or even Renee.

Another friend of mine was James, as far as his family was concerned, but Jimmy to myself and his other friends, even after he changed it himself to Jim.
He was the same person, of course, but others saw him differently – James for his parents, brothers and sisters – the name his mother and father had given him, the name which was registered after his birth, the name given at his baptism – his official name

.

But Jimmy to his pals who knew another facet of his personality – Jimmy, a familiar, easy-to-relate to kind of name – the name of a pal, a friend, a mate.

Then he himself started calling himself ‘Jim’ – more grown-up perhaps than Jimmy, more formal than Jimmy, but less so than James.

He saw himself as ‘Jim’ whatever the implications of that were.

Some people see us in different ways and call us by different names, as the case of friend Jimmy shows.

Perhaps something of this was reflected in the different names people had for Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah writing about the Messiah called him ‘wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’

The hymn writer, John Newton, once wrote:

‘Jesus my shepherd, brother, friend, my prophet, priest and king, my Lord, my life, my way, my end’

Jesus is different things, has different names, different aspects for different people – depending on their outlook, depending on their needs.

There is a bridge in an old European town where each archway has a carving of Jesus represented in a different way.

As the workmen cross the bridge early in the morning, they can pause for a moment at the figure of Jesus the carpenter.

The farm workers on the other hand can see him depicted as a shepherd.

The elderly and sick can view him as the great healer.

Those who are feeling tired or discouraged are reminded of Jesus the friend.

So all who cross that bridge can find the picture of Christ which suits their particular need.

And he fills all our needs.

He said of himself ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ and in him we find our direction, and our integrity, and our very being.

He said of himself ‘I am the Door’ and he opens up for us the way to a new kind of life.

He described himself as ‘The Good Shepherd’ and we know that he will protect us, direct us and guide us lovingly through life to the security of the fold.

And he said ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’ – in this life and the next, we have nothing to fear.

He is our Redeemer, our Saviour, and our Friend.

And let us remember this – the Bible tells us that ‘God has engraved our name on the palm of his hand’…in other words, we are as near to God as our hands are to us.

God knows us through and through, every last detail about us (why, even the hairs of our head are all numbered).

 God knows us; Christ loves us – whoever we are, wherever we come from, whatever our name!

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Gospel Drouth

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August 14, 2013 · 07:27

descriptions of the beloved Meenister

“a cocky wee bugger” – source unknown, but passed on to me by a mutual friend

“that blethering, so-and-so” – a frail elderly patient prior to a hospital service

“Ramble on” – a Led Zeppelin fan

“You dirty old Parson” – a mental-health care client (originally from the West Country)

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Funerals and names

Some years ago, I conducted a particular  funeral service at the local cemetery.

Later , I got a tearful and anxious phone call from the deceased’s granddaughter,

She said something along the lines of her brother having told his old Auntie Jeanie (who hadn’t been there because of ill-health) that “the minister didn’t mention you by name in the prayers of intercession”…. and that she’s been very hurt.

I reassured her that Auntie Jeanie had indeed been mentioned.

“Do you still have your notes?” she asked.

“I should have – but with no disrespect, they’re in my waste paper basket”

“Could you empty it and have a look?”

So it was all tipped out on the study floor – old invoices, letters from Kirk HQ, a half-eaten apple, an empty bottle of lager …. then, the crumpled up funeral notes.

I looked at them and, sure enough, Auntie Jeannie’s name was there.

I relayed the good news to the granddaughter who said “I was sure you had.  See that ba***red brother of mine – he’s a lying f***ker who likes to wind people up!”

End of story,

–ooOOoo–

At the Chapel of Rest – a service prior to going to pay the last offices of love at the cemetery.

The service went well. However, one of the principal mourners took me aside, before we got into the limos, and said “you never mentioned the grandchildren’s partners (no request had been been made when I did the pre-funeral visit)

Hastily, I scribbled down all their names and read them at the cemetery – adding an extra ten minutes to the service.

–ooOO0oo–

At the crematorium, the deceased’s name was Billy (for the committal, I was going to give him his Christian name – William)

So, after referring to “Billy” – as he was known be everyone – for the first few minutes of the service, his father stood up and in a loud voice said “His name is William – get your facts straight!”

Oh, the joys of ministry!

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What’s in a Name?

I was talking to someone recently about names.  His name was Bill but he signed himself ‘W’ for William, which, he said could lead to some confusion as to who he actually is.

I can sympathise.  I too have a first name that confuses many people.  I was christened ‘Alexander’ but am known as ‘Sandy’ which is a shortened form – or a diminutive, to give it it’s proper description.  ‘Sandy’ always reminds me of third-rate Scottish comedians or collie dugs.

My uncle was also Alexander, but was known as ‘Alec’ and I have a friend who is ‘Alex’ with an ‘x’

I once looked up a dictionary of names and to my horror discovered that another version is ‘Sanders’ – maybe, on hindsight, it is a bit more upmarket that ‘Sandy’ In Gaelic, Alexander becomes ‘Alastair’ or ‘Alasdair’

Once met a Russian lady at university, who told me that in her country, a version of Alexander is ‘Sacha’ – (Sacha Distel – French singer)

There’s a football player who rejoices in  the name of Zander Diamond, as does Alexander Armstong, the comedian, who is also called Zander.  Rather fancy that moniker!

And I’m sure there are many more variations on my particular name – as there are on so many others:

Robert can be Rob, Robbie, Bob or Bobby, Bert or Bertie.   Catherines are sometimes known as Kate, or Katy or even Renee.

Another friend of mine was James, as far as his family was concerned, but Jimmy to myself and his other friends, even after he changed it himself to Jim.  To wind him up we’d sometimes call him ‘Hamish’ which is the Gaelic form of his name

He was the same person, of course, but others saw him differently – James for his parents, brothers and sisters – the name his mother and father had given him, the name which was registered after his birth, the name given at his baptism – his official name.

But Jimmy to his pals who knew another facet of his personality – Jimmy, a familiar, easy-to-relate to kind of name – the name of a pal, a friend, a mate.

Then he himself started calling himself ‘Jim’ – more grown-up perhaps than Jimmy, more formal than Jimmy, but less so than James.  He saw himself as ‘Jim’ whatever the implications of that were.

Some people see us in different ways and call us by different names, as the case of friend Jimmy shows.

Perhaps something of this was reflected in the different names people had for Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah writing about the Messiah called him ‘wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’

The hymn writer, John Newton, once wrote:

‘Jesus my shepherd, brother, friend, my prophet, priest and king, my Lord, my life, my way, my end’

Jesus is different things, has different names, different aspects for different people – depending on their outlook, depending on their needs.

There is a bridge in an old European town where each archway has a carving of Jesus represented in a different way.

As the workmen cross the bridge early in the morning, they can pause for a moment at the figure of Jesus the carpenter.

The farm workers on the other hand can see him depicted as a shepherd.

The elderly and sick can view him as the great healer.

Those who are feeling tired or discouraged are reminded of Jesus the friend.

So all who cross that bridge can find the picture of Christ which suits their particular need.

And he fills all our needs.

He said of himself ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ and in him we find our direction, and our integrity, and our very being.

He said of himself ‘I am the Door’ and he opens up for us the way to a new kind of life.

He described himself as ‘The Good Shepherd’ and we know that he will protect us, direct us and guide us lovingly through life to the security of the fold.

And he said ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’ – in this life and the next, we have nothing to fear.  He is our Redeemer, our Saviour, and our Friend.

And let us remember this – the Bible tells us that ‘God has engraved our name on the palm of his hand’…in other words, we are as near to God as our hands are to us.  God knows us through and through, every last detail about us (why, even the hairs of our head are all numbered).

God knows us; Christ loves us – whoever we are, wherever we come from, whatever our name! 

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Names

A mother was in labour in the maternity ward.  She was in such pain that the midwife said “How about an epidural?” to which the mum’s partner answered, “Thanks for the suggestion, but Ann is a bit old fashioned and Epi – no, not really….. and anyhow we’ve already chosen a name”

–ooOOoo–

As long as it wasn’t the poor Glaswegian child who was named Versace McLatchie (true)

–ooOOoo–

There’s the story told of a West Indian baptism (this is so old that I should be paying death duties on it).  The minister asked the couple “What name do you give this child?”

The proud father answered “It pinned on she” (referring to a scrap of paper with the baby’s name written on it and attached to her christening shawl)

And so the Minister, misunderstanding, declared “Itpinnedonshe, I baptise you in the name of the Father……etc”

–ooOOoo–

It could have been worse…. a hospital chaplain was called out to conduct an “emergency” baptism for a poorly new born.

After chatting to the parents for a few minutes, he asked if they’d decided on the wee one’s name.  To which the Dad replied “I dunno”

You can guess the rest………

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Cheerio – Minus 5

The Meenister’s Log

Five days until retirement

MINUS 5

New to a particular congregation, when visiting a particular family of Church Members, I was asked what I preferred to be called.

“Our last minister (who was very much of the old school) liked to be addressed as ‘Reverend Sir'”

“Oh, that’s much too formal” I replied.

And sang the first couple of lines of………..

“Call me irresponsible…..”

To which came the reply, “Oh, we couldn’t possibly do that, Reverend Sir!”

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Names – again

The Meenister’s Log

when Helen was having Matthew, there was a teacher in the next bed who had also had a baby – she told of a Primary One teacher who was taking the roll on the first day at school; she asked all the kids what their names were and this five year old answered “Gooey” She checked the list & no “Gooey” there. His name was actually “Guy” but his thicko parents had only seen it written down – never pronounced – and the poor wee lad had been called “Gooey” ever since he’d been born.

What trouble we can have with names.  For example, Niamh is pronounced “Neeve” not “Niamah

And Siobhan is pronounced shiv + awn

Isla can cause problems too if you’re not Scottish

My surname “Strachan” is “Strawn” in England; “Straughan” in some parts of the north-east of Scotland; and in Trinidad, where i worked….well anything would do from “Stitchen” to “Stra-Chan” (the latter is a common mistake with telephone call-centres)

Many got round it by simply calling me “Rev”

My paternal grandfather had a beautiful brass plate on his front door “A Strachan”, but the “A” and the “Strachan” were just a wee bit too close together, and a postman once addressed him, when grandfather opened the door for the mail, Mr Astrakhan”!

More seriously, “Jesus” wasn’t His name!

Read on – it’s lengthy, but interesting

How “Yeshua” Became “Jesus”

The first letter in the name Yeshua (“Jesus”) is the yod. Yod represents the “Y” sound in Hebrew. Many names in the Bible that begin with yod are mispronounced by English speakers because the yod in these names was transliterated in English Bibles with the letter “J” rather than “Y”. This came about because in early English the letter “J” was pronounced the way we pronounce “Y” today. All proper names in the Old Testament were transliterated into English according to their Hebrew pronunciation, but when English pronunciation shifted to what we know today, these transliterations were not altered. Thus, such Hebrew place names as ye-ru-sha-LA-yim, ye-ri-HO, and yar-DEN have become known to us as Jerusalem, Jericho, and Jordan; and Hebrew personal names such as yo-NA, yi-SHAI, and ye-SHU-a have become known to us as Jonah, Jesse, and Jesus.

The yod is the smallest letter of the alphabet, which is why Yeshua used it in His famous saying in Matt 5:18: “Until heaven and earth pass away not one yod (“iota” in the Greek text) or one kots will pass from the Torah.” For emphasis, Yeshua incorporated in this saying a well-known Hebrew expression: lo’ yod ve-LO’ ko-TSO shel yod, “not a yod and not a ‘thorn’ of a yod,” i.e., not the most insignificant and unimportant thing. When Yeshua declared that heaven and earth might sooner disappear than the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, or the smallest stroke of a letter, He was simply saying that the Torah (“Law” or “Teaching”) of Moses would never cease to be.

The second sound in Yeshua’s name is called tse-RE, and is pronounced almost like the letter “e” in the word “net”. Just as the “Y” sound of the first letter is mispronounced in today’s English, so too the first vowel sound in “Jesus”. Before the Hebrew name “Yeshua” was transliterated into English, it was first transliterated into Greek. There was no difficulty in transliterating the tse-RE sound since the ancient Greek language had an equivalent letter which represented this sound. And there was no real difficulty in transcribing this same first vowel into English. The translators of the earliest versions of the English Bible transliterated the tse-RE in Yeshua with an “e”. Unfortunately, later English speakers guessed wrongly that this “e” should be pronounced as in “me,” and thus the first syllable of the English version of Yeshua came to be pronounced “Jee” instead of “Yeh”. It is this pronunciation which produced such euphemistic profanities as “Gee” and “Geez”.

Since Yeshua is spelled “Jeshua” and not “Jesus” in most English versions of the Old Testament (for example in Ezra 2:2 and 2 Chronicles 31:15), one easily gets the impression that the name is never mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet ‘Yeshua’ appears there twenty-nine times, and is the name of at least five different persons and one village in the southern part of Yehudah (“Judah”).

In contrast to the early biblical period, there were relatively few different names in use among the Jewish population of the Land of Israel at the time of the Second Temple. The name Yeshua was one of the most common male names in that period, tied with Eleazer for fifth place behind Simon, Joseph, Judah, and John. Nearly one out of ten persons known from the period was named Yeshua.

The first sound of the second syllable of Yeshua is the “sh” sound. It is represented by the Hebrew letter shin. However Greek, like many other languages, has no “sh” sound. Instead, the closest approximation, the Greek sigma, was used when transcribing “Yeshua” as “Iesus”. Translators of English versions of the New Testament transliterated the Greek transcription of a Hebrew name, instead of returning to the original Hebrew. This was doubly unfortunate, first because the “sh” sound exists in English, and second because in English the “s” sound can shift to the “z” sound, which is what happened in the case of the pronunciation of “Jesus”.

The fourth sound one hears in the name Yeshua is the “u” sound, as in the word “true”. Like the first three sounds, this also has come to be mispronounced but in this case it is not the fault of the translators. They transcribed this sound accurately, but English is not a phonetic language and “u” can be pronounced in more than one way. At some point the “u” in “Jesus” came to be pronounced as in “cut,” and so we say “Jee-zuhs.”

The “a” sound, as in the word “father,” is the fifth sound in Jesus’ name. It is followed by a guttural produced by contracting the lower throat muscles and retracting the tongue root- an unfamiliar task for English speakers. In an exception to the rule, the vowel sound “a” associated with the last letter “ayin” (the guttural) is pronounced before it, not after. While there is no equivalent in English or any other Indo-European language, it is somewhat similar to the last sound in the name of the composer, “Bach.” In this position it is almost inaudible to the western ear. Some Israelis pronounce this last sound and some don’t, depending on what part of the dispersion their families returned from. The Hebrew Language Academy, guardian of the purity of the language, has ruled that it should be sounded, and Israeli radio and television announcers are required to pronounce it correctly. There was no letter to represent them, and so these fifth and sixth sounds were dropped from the Greek transcription of “Yeshua,” -the transcription from which the English “Jesus” is derived.

So where did the final “s” of “Jesus” come from? Masculine names in Greek ordinarily end with a consonant, usually with an “s” sound, and less frequently with an “n” or “r” sound. In the case of “Iesus,” the Greeks added a sigma, the “s” sound, to close the word. The same is true for the names Nicodemus, Judas, Lazarus, and others.

English speakers make one further change from the original pronunciation of Jesus’ name. English places the accent on “Je,” rather than on “sus.” For this reason, the “u” has shortened in its English pronunciation to “uh.”

In the West, a child’s name is often chosen for its pleasant sound, or because another family member had it. The Jews of the Second Temple period also named after relatives (Luke 1:59-63). However, almost all Jewish names have a literal meaning. Occasionally this is seen in English names too, such as Scott (a person from Scotland), Johnson (son of John), and Baker (bread maker). But with Hebrew names it is the rule, rather than the exception.

The name Yeshua literally means The LORD’s Salvation, or Salvation from the LORD. In comparison, prior to being transliterated from the Hebrew Bible, the name Iesus did not exist in Greek. Through multiple translations and changes in pronunciation, a tradition of saying “Jesus” has obscured His name, “Yeshua.” It has shifted His perceived message and identity from Hebrew to Greek.

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Names 2

The Meenister’s Log

Of course, I would have had to leave in the vestry the vital piece of paper with the baby’s names on it.

So,we gathered at the font, and in very Ministerial tones, asked the startled father of the wee one, “What name givest thou this child?

(how many other clergy-colleagues have done that too?!!)

–ooOOO00–

The greatest name that we can have is that of “Christian”

It started off as a nickname and a rather derogatory one at that: “These Christ-Folk”

We first come across it in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 11 verse 26: “And the disciples were first called ‘Christians’ at Antioch.

From a not very compimentary description, it soon became a name filled with pride.

But the greatest name of all is that of Jesus Christ.

St.Paul writes, in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 2 verses 9-11):

“God has…highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every name should bow…..and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFI5l8v_0UY

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Names

The Meenister’s Log

At one particular baptism, I took the infant in my arms and said, as I sprinkled the water, “John William (or whatever), I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”   At this point, the father hissed at me “That’s not his full name”….. to which I whispered back something like,”Don’t worry, we’ll get it sorted out (how?!!)

Now that’s a bit worrying – not as bad, of course, as giving the WRONG names, but not giving ALL the names the little fellow was entitled to.

After the baptismal part of the Service, I accompanied the Baptismal party into the vestry, and was profuse in my apologies to the parents.

“I’m terribly sorry” I said “but you told me his names are John and William”

“Aye, they are” answered the father, “but you forgot to christen him with his surname -it should have been John William Taylor!”

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