“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Jewish boys  are given their names on the 8th day of their lives. That is today in the life of Jesus, the day of his circumcision,  his dedication to God, his presentation of the first-fruits offering. This is why we have ‘christenings’ today, when we give children their Christian name at Baptism.

This is a wonderful paradox, that the One who gives names to people like Abraham and Peter takes on a name loaded with meaning. He is called Yeshua, “the Lord saves”; he took our salvation as his very identity in the flesh!!!

There’s a sense of inspiration in our parents’ hearts sometimes when we are named,  though some reasons seem better than others. In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby chose “Walker” and “Texas Ranger”; I actually know a guy named after a horse, ‘Kutter’

in Hosea, we hear what our spiritual names are when we’re in sin. These are generic names, not at all special, just like everyone else. In sin, we are known by our separation from God. This is ironic, because most of us are afraid of losing our identity in faith and the practice of a religion

Hosea 2:23 “We have wandered far from our husband, and have become strangers and exiles,” that is to say,  we have become the children of Hosea and Gomer, daughter Lo-ruhamah “no pity” and son Lo-ammi “not my people”

But God promises a name-change for us

Hosea 2:28-23

[18] And I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. [19] And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. [20] I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD…

[23] And I will have pity on ‘Not pitied’, and I will say to ‘Not my people’, `You are my people’; and he shall say `Thou art my God.'”

Romans 9:25-26 [25] As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call `my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call `my beloved.'” [26] “And in the very place where it was said to them, `You are not my people,’ they will be called `sons of the living God.'”

1 Peter 2:10 – You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

We’re still known by a group name; we are God’s people, defined by their struggle against sin, their struggle to stay on the road to God, as aliens and exiles on the earth; a strange tribe of gypsies who are just passing through, but the time is coming when he will reveal our real proper names. As Revelation declares, our true name is written on a stone…to the church of Pergamum, Rev 2

[17] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.’

Only because Jesus Christ became man and took a name, the anointed salvation of God, can we become our true selves; and we have to wait on him to find out who we really are. I can’t wait to find out!

The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Bergstrom is rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lake Mary, Florida.