SCRIPTURE: Psalm 8:1 (TM)
God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name.
Luanne Oleas tells this story: When the 1960s ended, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district reverted to high rent, and many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They had children and got married, too, though in no particular sequence. But they didn't name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school.
That's when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply nametags to their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy's name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it.
"Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn't seem much odder than Heather's or Sun Ray's.
At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?"
He didn't answer. That wasn't strange. He hadn't answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn't matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children's bus stops on the reverse side of their nametags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony."
Names are important. Your name, my name, the name of our neighbors, the name of the stranger standing in front of you at the grocery store, the name of receptionist, the name of the waitress … everybody’s name is important. We should use them more often… the more often we use their name the more likely we will remember their name the next time we meet up with them.
We are a casual bunch. When someone shares their name we don’t listen. And like “fruit stand” when our name is used incorrectly or mispronounced or if just plan wrong we seldom if ever correct the speaker. We just go along. BUT IT IS OUR NAME!
In the Garden on resurrection morning Mary didn’t recognize the “stranger” to be Jesus until he spoke her name. He knows our name… and all that comes with the package.
And while we are on names, won’t it be great if God’s name was a common household name… found on our lips often… spoken with reverence… spoken with a sense of knowledge… intimate knowledge. Sometimes, too often, the name of God is misunderstood and abused – much like “fruit stand”. God is too polite to interrupt us while we are talking to remind us of his name. And, by the way, he does answer to a wide range of names, even those that aren’t so nice. That’s just the way God is. You can count on it!
O you of many names help us to remember that you want to be a part of everyday living. Help us to include you, not as an afterthought, but as our first thought. Help us speak your name so often that our hearts and minds and souls live into the intimacy of such knowledge.