The Importance of Names

Names are important. They help to identify who you are. Just imagine if everyone had the same name. On that basis, it would be difficult to identify Mary from, well umm… Mary! My siblings and I were one of only three Pacific Island families who attended a predominantly Anglo Primary School in Auckland, New Zealand in the 1960’s. Many, if not most, of the teachers, who were all Anglo, had probably never known another language other than English and possibly Maori. A Samoan name like mine stood out among the English names called out each morning at roll call. It sounded extremely foreign and difficult to pronounce. One teacher even pronounced my name ‘Tomatoe. I had the audacity to respond “Present!”

Names are also important because they convey something about a person. My name, Fa’amata’u, reminds me that I belong to a particular family and that I originate from a particular place. My name enables me certain entitlements reserved only for that particular family from a particular place. However, I have an obligation to preserve the honour and integrity of that name because although it is my name-it is not my name. It is a name which belongs to generations past, present and future. The implication, therefore, is that the way I behave and live my life in the present will bring either honour or dishonour not only to me but generations of people, past, present and future.

The early Christians were known by the name ‘Followers of the Way’ (Acts 9:2) probably originating from Jesus himself, who called himself “The Way” (John 14:6) Jesus taught love for God and neighbour.The Book of Acts gives some insight into the way the early Christians lived up to the name ‘Followers of the Way:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

Move forward to 2017. Where do you see similarities in the way the early Christians devoted themselves in prayer, worship and learning and sharing and caring for one another and the way we share and care for each other and devote ourselves to prayer, worship and learning at HXUCA? How do we measure up being a community who love God and neighbour with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind? As ‘Followers of the Way” in the 21st century, how are we living up to our name?

The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!

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