Message for the Morning Prayer

Proper 7 June 19, 2022
Luke 8:26-39

What is in a name? Julian Whitney

My name is Julian Whitney, meaning Youthful White-North. I wish I were youthful and in these not and humid days I wish I were in the white north! North Cape, Norway perhaps?

I like Japanese names. 漢字 can be pictographic – 川 looks like a river, 月 looks like the moon. 漢字 can be also ideographic – a person resting against a tree is 休.

I find them mnemonic, useful for remembering names. One of my student’s name is 内田 珠結. Do you know the sports drink Miu? Well, I picture her on a warm day in a rice field (内田) refreshing herself with a bottle of Miu (珠結) .

But what is in a name?

Here in Church we refer to God The Father, Heavenly Father; God The Son, Jesus Christ; The Holy Spirit, The Holy Ghost.

Isiah says, “I was ready to be sought out by those who do not ask, to be found by those who do not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am, to a nation that did not call on my name.” He goes on to describe unGodly practices by ‘rebellious people’. He remains un-named, ignored by those who are indulging in “abominable things”. The only named people are the righteous; Jacob and Judah.

Galatians are referred to collectively, not individually, not by name. We are no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female as “you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Luke tells us of a man who is not given a name. He is not introduced through a name or a family bloodline, but through how he is living. This man has been naked, living among the tombs, not in a house but in a graveyard. At times his community have shackled him, tying him up with chains to keep him away from them and to keep themselves safe. They believe him to be possessed by demons. He is just the crazy, dangerous man – no name.

He has no house, he has no home. I think there is a difference between house and home.

A house is a building in which you shelter; to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is an inanimate – not moving, utilitarian – for use, simply a structure, an object.

In English we often use the expression ‘to feel at home’. We welcome visitors by saying, “Make yourself at home”, meaning ‘Please be comfortable, you are one of us’. The Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’, which made Kylie Minogue a BIG name, theme-song has the line, “Where everyone knows your name.”

This suggests intimacy; positive social relationships. Another expression, “Home is where the heart is” means that our house becomes a home when the people who live there know each others names, they know their strengths and their weaknesses, they know when they are happy or sad, they know when they are healthy or sick, and most importantly, they care about them – they know their name.

However, we sometimes say, “I know her or him by name.” This phrase means that we only know the name, ‘Ohtani Shohei’ or ‘Justin Beaver’. We have never actually met and engaged with that person. We do not know what makes them laugh or what makes them cry. We do not know them at all, we have simply just heard of them. 

Our name identifies us, for example on our driving licence or our residency status. But those who know us and care about us are family and friends. Alwyn Whitney is ‘Mum’ for さなえ’ and I. She is someone about whom we care deeply. We will be online this evening at eight-thirty, that’s half-past twelve in the afternoon, UK time. Every week we make sure that we are free at that time so that we can video-call each other and, thanks to broadband, that can be for two hours!

Many of us here this morning arrange their schedule so that they are free on the first and third Sunday of every month. Most of us know each other by name, but more importantly we know each other through our common fellowship; twice a month we have the chance to congregate, to get together and share our thanks and praise to God for all his blessings.

In conclusion; Yes! We need names for purposes of identification but more importantly we need a positive social bond with our family, friends and neighbours. 

So we have ”God The Son”, “Jesus Christ” sent to us by “God The Father”, “Heavenly Father” who redeems our souls through the power of “The Holy Ghost”, “The Holy Spirit”. By whatever name we wish to call them, The Holy Trinity, would smell as sweet.