Pastor Cathy Daharsh
“The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb the Lord named me.” – Isaiah 49:1-7
I never liked my name growing up. My last name was LaBouve’ (pronounced La Boo’ vay). It was a name that generated lots of nicknames: boots, boob, boof, boov – you get the idea. I also didn’t care all that much for my first name, Catherine, a name that my mom called out when I was in trouble. What made my name even worse was when I was researching it for a 7th grade project I discovered that my first name meant “pure” and my last name meant “cow.” Pure Cow! I was mortified as I had to do an in-class presentation telling my class what my name meant.
But, as time went on, I learned that nicknames were often given because people cared about me. I learned the time and attention that my parents put into choosing my name. I also learned that my middle name, Ann meant “Grace” which is a powerful word from our faith story. Lastly, I learned that how I choose to live my life influences the impression people have of my name more than my name itself.
In the Gospel reading assigned this Sunday from the book of John, Jesus renames Simon to Cephas (which is translated Peter). Name changes in the Bible are an indication of the beginning of a new life, a new purpose, and a new relationship with God. Cephas is the Aramaic word for rock and Peter is the Greek word for rock. Jesus sees rock-like possibilities in Peter that will not be realized for quite some time. For now, Peter is spontaneous instead of rock-like. In his enthusiasm, he will walk on water toward Jesus, only to stumble as soon as he realizes what he is doing. In the heat of anger, he will cut off the ear of one of the men who come to take away Jesus. He will argue his loyalty to Jesus but will deny him three times. Only after Jesus’ resurrection will Peter begin to be like the rock that Jesus saw in him so much earlier. There are possibilities like this in each of us. If we follow Christ, he will bring those possibilities to the surface for us just as he did for Peter.
We are given lots of names by the world, but I hope and pray that you remember in 2020 that you are a “child of God.” May that name give you hope, courage, and strength as you try out new names and let go of other names this year. Blessings to you!