Sermons 2008
What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 16A RCL Matthew 16:13-20

Names. What’s in a name? The last half century has been a time when books of names for newborns proliferated rapidly. Names seemed to follow a certain vogue. There were years when Emma seemed to be the most popular choice of a name for girls. Or Melanie. Or Hillary. Girls grew into adulthood with names like Cinnamon, Amber, Sparkle, Spring, Summer, Flower, and Fern. Whatever happened to Jane or Mary or Margaret? And some names were floral: Rose, Violet, Daisy.

Boys seemed to escape the trend to more exotic names. John or Paul or William or Henry or James or David or Mark or Jason seemed to represent the norm in naming boys. There were exceptions, of course, especially in the South, where family and/or double names were more prevalent. My own first and middle names, Walter Scott represented both my father and my mother’s family. The United States Army and the United States Government in their wisdom, now followed by almost every one else tried to rename me Walter S, something I have resisted for over half a century, and not with much success. I never was a Walter S and never will be, in thinking about who I am. My roommates in school always knew that they could irritate me no end by calling me Walter S.

How many times have we had to fill out a form that only allows first name and middle initial regardless of how we identify ourselves otherwise?

African Americans, whose ethnic names were lost during their slavery, have created a different set of names for themselves. Male infants are sometimes given names like Donta or Tavon and for girls it can be Latasha, Lakeisha or Latoya. And ethnic based names of any form tell us something about the person who bears it.

Thinking about names helps us answer the question, what’s in a name. First of all, our name is part of our own identity, our self, and how we think of ourselves. Almost all of keep the same name all our lives and it is emblazoned on our grave marker.

Our names help us distinguish one human from another. Names provide us with subtle clues to the context in which another person exists. We respond to other humans when they call us by our names. We feel a slight disappointment when someone can’t remember our name after we’ve been introduced – something for which we all must forgive each other, especially as we grow older.
Names are involved with power. The power to name someone represents the power that the one who names has over the person who is named. We respond when we are called by our name automatically and without thinking about it. In Ancient times this was particularly true: the power to name someone or something represented a near absolute power over that person or object,

Yet, in some very important cases, the ability to recognize the name of someone the power is reversed. Even today there are latent superstitions that to name an illness, condition, or the Evil One is to have some detrimental effect on ourselves.

And there are names that ring through history and religion. In our Old Testament lesson from Exodus, a Hebrew child is given a name. Moses. Moses, the savior of the Hebrew and Jewish people, Moses the writer of the Law of Moses. Moses the archetype of the aspirations of an enslaved and wandering people for over 3,000 years.

And then there is the Confession of Saint Peter, the centerpiece of our Gospel for today. Saint Peter and the other disciples knew him only as Jesus son of Joseph when they began their adventure and mission together. They didn’t catch on, really, despite his mighty acts and miracles wrought before their eyes. They confused him with John the Baptist, or Elijah, Jeremiah, and the other prophets.

Peter was the first to know it. Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” Time stood still in that moment as the mists shrouding the revelation were swept away from shortsighted humanity. The universe waited is silence for the answer. And Peter’s answer thunders across the ages: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

The rest, as the say, is history. And more. It’s the really Good News.

So what’s in a name? Every thing. And in some names, much, much more.