Name Giving:  Esther

“10 Esther did not reveal her people or kindred, for Mordecai had charged her not to tell. (Esther 2: 16)”

Names can be used to conceal identity.  Hadassah was a famous Jewish orphan raised by her uncle Mordecai.  During the Babylonian exile she was taken to the king’s harem as one of the beautiful young virgins of the country rounded up to find the king a new wife.  Hadassah disguised her Jewish identity by using the name Esther.  She was chosen to be the next queen and was able to save the Jewish people from annihilation.  The book of Esther tells the story and every year the Jews still celebrate Purim to honor Esther.

         That may sound weird to us but in Kenya, people were never addressed by their name.  I was known as “Mother of children” for I had five, or “Wife of the Professor,” or “Mother of …. Insert child’s name.”  Names have power.  When you hear your full name called in class, you may well be headed to the principal’s office.  Official documents require official, legal names.  Some nationalities track their lineage through their names.  A Somali woman might have her name followed by her father’s name, ending with her grandfather’s name.  Names can clarify our identity and can hide our identity.

         Sunday we will learn about the official naming of the baby born in Bethlehem that we celebrated on Christmas Day.  He was known by many names in Scripture: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)” Joseph and Mary took their baby to the Temple and he was officially named Jesus, that means Savior, “for he will save his people from their sins.”  It is the name the angel said he should be given.  “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)”

         Let’s take a moment and think of names we are called and how they touch our identity.  Perhaps we need to think about whether the names we call others build up their character or not.  God calls us “child of God.”  Can you list five adjectives that explain your identity in God’s eyes as his child?  Blessings.

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