Summary: Dr. Pittendreigh’s first sermon at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. The theme is the importance of names, and how God knows each of us by name, and by heart.
1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche (Sin te chee) to agree with each other in the Lord.
3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
1. The Importance of Names
Paul says in our New Testament Lesson “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!”
I have to tell you, I rejoicing in the Lord to be here with you today!
My wife and I have been looking forward to moving here and beginning our new life with you.
Many of you have already met my wife – she is a teacher and had to start work several weeks ago so she has been attending worship here for over a month.
Since my wife is a teacher, she often keeps me entertained as she tells me about the children in her school. Every year, at about this time when the school is getting geared up for another season, my wife usually has one or two wonderful stories about the names of some of the children in her school.
One year she told me a story that one of her colleagues told about two twin children. Lemonjello and Orangejello, which although they are pronounced as if they are names from some old European culture, are actually spelled the same way as Lemon Jello and Orange Jello. Lemonjello and Orangejello – one can only wonder where those names came from.
One of her other stories had to do with a student named Nosmo. Nosmo King. It was an unusual name but it wasn’t until the middle of the year that one of the teachers asked Mrs King why she had named her son Nosmo.
Mrs King explained that when she was in labor and at the hospital, she had some difficulty in delivering the child. They medicated her and took her to the delivery room, and through the haze of the medicine and the anxiety she prayed for the safety of her child, and she also prayed that God would give her just the right name for the child. Mrs. King looked up and actually saw a sign. The sign read, Nosmo King.
Of course, when you put the space after the first O instead of the second O, Nosmo King becomes No Smoking.
I guess it was toward the end of the 1960s when we became more creative with names for our children. Not long ago I read in Reader’s Digest about a teacher in California. Children there were being named Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise -- and of course, they all eventually ended up in public school.
That’s when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely hung name tags around the necks of their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy’s name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it.
"Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered.
And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?"
He accepted hesitantly.
By the end of the day, his name didn’t seem much stranger than Joe’s, or Heather’s or Sun Beam’s.
At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses.
"Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?" He didn’t answer. That wasn’t strange. He hadn’t answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn’t matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children’s bus stops on the reverse side of their nametags. And instead of bland numbers, each bus was to have a name that described something about its route.