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The name of jesus

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January 1, 2012

Sermon by Sharla DeLawter

January 1 2012

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in a manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.  the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  After eight days had appased, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

---------------LUKE 2:15-21


My mother’s name is Mimi. That’s how it appears on her birth certificate. She went to school with a boy named

Teddy. That’s how his birth certificate reads.


They had a teacher one year in elementary school who insisted on calling them Miriam and Theodore,

even though their birth certificates said otherwise. She said: “Mimi and Teddy are nicknames and I only

use proper names in my classroom.”


So when it came time for my mother to give my brother and me our names, she made sure they could never

be considered nicknames because of her experience long before. That was her criteria; that was all she cared about.

What could be worse, right?


Well, I’ll tell you! She named my brother Jedd, spelled with two ‘D’-s and me, Sharla.

What she failed to consider is that we’d be correcting people all our lives about our names

and not just for one semester in school.


My brother’s situation is more of a spelling thing - people assume it’s ‘Jed” with only one “D”,

the more common way to spell it.


My situation, on the other hand, is twofold. People not only think my name is spelled with a

“C” rather than an “S”, but people I meet always think I’m introducing myself as Charlotte,

because lets face it, no one says “Charlotte”; they sort of swallow the “T’s so it sounds more like

Charla…and besides, who‘s ever heard of Sharla anyway?


Frankly, it’s been a pain in the butt, but I suppose after 55+ years, the annoyance has faded somewhat.


The people my heart truly goes out to are the children of celebrities.

I mean: Rumer Glenn and Scout LaRue Willis …really????


Various other celebrities have offspring named Daisy Boo, Poppy Honey, Fifi-Trixibelle,

Audio Science and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily -- it will take her forever to fill out forms and sign her name!


We can thank Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf for Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf Lee.

And don’t even get me started on Diva Muffin, Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa.

Come on, Frank, what were you thinking??????    I suppose Sharla isn’t that bad after all!


Names are a large part of our identity. It’s not about who we are deep down inside,

but speaks more to our external personna. It’s how we are presented to the world.

Addressing someone by name means you know something about that person

and being called by name means that you yourself are known.


Can you recall a time when someone greeted you by name,

when you didn’t think they knew what it was? (pause)

How did you feel? (pause)


It’s happened to me on occasion and I’ve always felt pleasantly surprised and acknowledged.

Yes, names are important.


Of course, we’ve all heard the adage:

     “Sticks and stones may break my bones

       but words will never hurt me.”


But when you’re young and those words are derogatory nicknames, they can sting and can

stick with you.   Not everyone has developed the ability to shrug off name-calling.


Even though we may know it intellectually, emotionally is entirely different and not as easily

accomplished.  And we’ve all witnessed in recent years what bullying can do.


The Nazis took away people’s names and branded them with numbers in the

concentration camps and death camps.  I guess they didn’t think their captives even

deserved names. But that’s a whole other sermon and we won’t go there today.


In Exodus 3:13-15 we hear:

     “But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites

      and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has

      sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’

      what shall I say to them?”


      God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” God said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites,

      I AM has sent me to you.’ ”


      God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites,

      “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,

       and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

            This is my name forever;

            and this is my title for all generations…”


While we have been told God’s name, we never use it.

When we talk about God, we say “God this” and “God that”.

When we talk to God, we say “Our Father” or “Lord God” or “Heavenly Father”

or any other title from a myriad of possibilities, rather than

“O I AM” or “Dear I AM” or “Heavenly I AM”.


We just don’t use God’s name. It’s as though we aren’t worthy to even utter the name.


I’ve always liked the Aaronic Blessing. Well, it’s no wonder -

seeing as how God wrote it! But even before I knew that,

these beautiful words reached deep inside me;

they evoke a sentiment that warms me all over.


Listen to Numbers 6:22-27 again:

     The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron

     and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the

     Israelites: You shall say to them,


     The Lord bless you and keep you;

     the Lord make his face to shine upon you,

          and be gracious to you;

     the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,

          and give you peace.


     So they shall put my name on the Israelites,

     and I will bless them.


What’s that you say? Did you catch that? (pause)


Not only did God write the blessing for us, but said that whenever it is uttered

‘my name will be put on you and I will bless you‘.


How gracious is our God!!! Amen Church???


So even if we feel uncomfortable or unworthy to say God’s name - we need not worry.

God will put his name on us and bless us. God will do it! Amazing! Amazing Grace!


And that brings us to God’s ultimate gift…His son, Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, verse 21 reads:

     “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child;

      and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”


According to Rabbi Andrea Frank, the reasoning behind waiting for eight days is that

everything was created in seven days. When a child is eight days old, he has surpassed

the physical world and entered a world far more spiritual.


While there is no religious significance to naming a male Jewish child at the Berit Mila,

more commonly referred to as ‘bris‘, it has always been the custom

and remains so even to this day. And it is the name that’s used when becoming Bar Mitzvah,

in marriage, at the funeral and on the grave stone.


The prayer offered during the naming portion of a bris expresses reverence to God and

can be very emotional:

     “Creator of the universe. May it be Your will to

      regard and accept this (performance of circumcision) as if I had brought this baby

      before Your glorious throne.

      And in Your abundant mercy, through Your holy angels,

      give a pure and holy heart to so-and-so, the son of so-and-so,

      who was just now circumcised in honor of Your great Name.

      May his heart be wide open to comprehend Your holy Law,

      that he may learn and teach, keep and fulfill Your laws.”


The bris for Jesus would have included a similar prayer.


Nowadays, it has even become customary in many Synogogues to hold

baby naming ceremonies for girls, as well.


Just imagine being named by God!

Quite the Wow factor!

Definite street cred there!


We know of only a few people in the Bible whose names have been given by God.

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah;

and through the angel Gabriel told Zechariah to name his son John.

Fine, upstanding names all and there have been many with these monikers.


Then, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to Mary.

Luke 1:31 -

     “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,

      and you will name him Jesus.”


I don’t know about you, but personally I think no one should name their child

Jesus or Jesus (Spanish pronunciation). It actually irks me. There is only one Jesus.


There has never been, is not now, nor will there ever be anyone like him.

He is our Lord, the Son of God. I don’t believe anyone should bear that name except him.


However, this apparently is just my hang up, judging from how many Jesuses there are

running around. But again, I digress.


Jesus - Our Lord and Savior, the Messiah, yes - absolutely.

But also: our teacher

               our healer

               our mentor

               our shepherd

               our life coach

               our comforter

               our advocate

               our friend

               our brother

               our everything else wonderful that you can imagine.


Jesus is called many other names --

     Lamb of God

     The Good Shepherd


     Rod of Jesse

     Key of David

The list goes on.


That he came to earth to be born in human form, makes God so much more

accessible to us. We have Jesus to thank for our relationship with God the Father.

And for teaching us how to pray. We certainly have no qualms about calling him by name … Jesus


And when we pray, we pray in Jesus’ name.


There’s a song played on the contemporary gospel radio station I listen to,

with a wonderful chorus:

     “Our God, is an awesome God

      He reigns from heaven above

      With wisdom, power and love

      Our God is an awesome God.”


I can think of no better words to leave you with than these:

     The Lord bless you and keep you;

     the Lord make his face to shine upon you,

          and be gracious to you;

     the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,

          and give you peace.


And the church says AMEN.

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