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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

By Janet Stobie

At birth, I was named “Sharon Margaret Grigg.” Adopted, I became Janet Lynn Kilbride. With my first marriage I became Janet Lynn White. In my second, I exchanged White for Stobie, confusing many people. Those who knew me as Jan White don’t always connect me with the Rev. Janet Stobie who writes books. Consequently, I have to identify myself as Janet White-Stobie. Names are important. They help us keep people straight.

In our Christmas story, before Jesus was born, God’s angel tells Joseph to name his child “Jesus,” which in Hebrew means salvation. While the baptismal waters were still streaming down Jesus’ face as an adult, the heavens opened, God’s Spirit descended like a dove, and God said, “You are my beloved son. I am pleased with you.”

At his baptism, Jesus was identified as a beloved child of God. Note that Jesus didn’t become loved when he was baptized. Rather God proclaimed that Jesus already was God’s beloved child. In the church, we make the same proclamation at a child’s baptism. We claim God’s love for that child. Added to all their names given by their parents come the names, “beloved” and “child of God”.

I sign my book, Spectacular Stella with the words, “Always remember you are God’s beloved child.” I want every child that reads Stella to know that God has loved them from their beginning.

What difference does it make in your life, to know you are God’s beloved child.

This name gives us value even when we make poor choices or fail. This name tells us that God will always give us another chance. Like the father in Jesus’ story of “the Lost Son”, God is always waiting, arms open wide. Regardless of how far we go astray, we only have to turn around and step into God’s warm embrace. God’s unconditional love is with us always.