What’s in a name?

Around late Advent, just before Christmas, it is common to have this reading from the Gospels:

Matthew 1:18-23

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit.  21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel which is translated “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23 refers to Isaiah 7:14.

Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

(FYI – Immanuel is sometimes spelled “Emmanuel”.)

So is the prophecy fulfilled? A virgin did conceive and give birth to a son – but he was named Jesus, not Immanuel.  Does it matter?

Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which means “The Lord saves” or “Yahweh saves.”

So his name doesn’t even mean the same thing – “God is with us” and “The Lord saves” are not the same.

It reminds me of the discrepancy with the death and resurrection – it wasn’t three days – it wasn’t even 48 hours – that Jesus was entombed.

Does it matter?

Is it a deal breaker?

And how come nobody else has pointed this out?

 

(All translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Translation)

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Thoughts about The Nativity story.

There are a few issues with the story of the Nativity that happens in Matthew and then follows in Luke. Let us look at the original to start off with. This is the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation.

Matthew 1:18-25
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”
24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Notice anything that didn’t synch up? The name isn’t the same.

Here’s the footnote to Matthew 1:21 from HCSB – “Jesus is the Gk form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which equals “The LORD saves” or “Yahweh saves.””

This makes the angel’s comment in line 21 “…because He will save His people from their sins” make sense. His name is his job description.

But then the prophecy by Isaiah says that they will name him Immanuel, which is translated as “God is with us.”

Which one is it? Jesus (Joshua, Yeshua), meaning “the Lord saves” (The Lord being Yahweh), or is it Immanuel, meaning “God is with us”?

Maybe it is a little of both. God saves us by being with us. God lets us know that we aren’t alone. God isn’t “up there”. God cares so much about us that God came down here to be among us and save us from our fear and loneliness. Our God is a hands-on kind of God. Our God isn’t like a CEO or upper management. Our God knows what we are being asked to do, because our God has done it with us. Our God knows how hard life is here in these bodies with their faults and limitations. Our God knows because our God has lived it with us.

Now, this is a poetic interpretation. It sounds good, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Is the prophecy fulfilled or not? He wasn’t named Immanuel, and he wasn’t named with the same meaning.

Then there is another problem. Are they married or not? The story continues in Luke 2:1-7. This too is from the HCSB translation.

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.”

Note line 5. She was engaged to him. Not his wife. In Matthew 1:24, he married her after the angel talked to him. She hadn’t given birth yet. The story of the birth happens only in Luke, and there she is listed as being engaged, not married.

It is important to read carefully and question everything. If things don’t match up, ask why.

Poem- What is Your name?

What is Your name?
Not the name of Your disease
not the name others have called You.

Your name that is
Special and star-like
Blessed and beautiful,
Your name
for You alone?

It might have been a long time
since You have heard it.
It might have been never.

The names others have given You
might not be true
might not fit
in the same way that
hand me down clothes
Don’t.

In the same way that
sometimes You have to
make Your own clothes
stitch
by
stitch
to have something
that fits
sometimes You have to
Discover
Uncover
Recover
Your name.

You might not be the name
You were given at birth.

You might not be
mother, brother,
day labor, CEO,
friend, failure
gambler, penny pincher
mentally ill, stable
ex con, confidante.

The names that stick to You
(or are stuck on You)
out of relationship
or habit
or job
or history
or health
might be a part of Your name
or Your name might be
Entirely apart
from them.

What is Your name
Your true name
deep inside Your heart
small and bright and solid
And beautiful?
Immovable
Unchanging
Eternal
like the stars
like the sea.

The vastness of forever is inside you.

Find Your name
And You find Yourself
again
or for
the first time.

Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah

When Jesus and his disciples came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, a town north of the region of Galilee, he asked his disciples privately, “Who are people in the crowds saying I am?” They replied “Some say you are John the Baptist. Others think you are Elijah, and yet others think you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

Jesus faced them and said “But as for you, who do you say I am?” Simon answered him saying “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

MT 16:13-16, MK 8:27-29, LK 9:18-20

Jesus responded “Simon, son of Jonah, God has blessed you with this knowledge because you didn’t learn this from a person but directly from God!” Jesus continued, saying “Your name is now Peter, because you are a rock, and upon you I will build my living church, and the gates of death will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you join together on earth will be joined together in heaven, and whatever you separate on earth will be separated in heaven.”

MT 16:17-19

Then he gave them very strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

MT 16:20, MK 8:30, LK 9:21a

What’s in a name?

At what point do you start calling someone by their first name? How do you feel if someone calls you by your first name and they don’t know you very well? Have you ever insisted that someone call you by your last name? What is in a name? What does all this mean? What is going on behind the names?

There is definitely a difference when you go from being addressed by your first name to being addressed by your last name. After my parents died, I started calling our next-door neighbor by her first name. Before that she was always known as Mrs. Miles. There was something about all that I had been through before and after my parents died that made me realize that I was an adult now and I started calling her Margaret. No one told me to do this. I just knew it was time. She didn’t stop me. Even though she was 50 years older than me I was now equal to her.

Really that is what the difference is. When you call someone by their first name, you are establishing a hierarchy. If you both refer to each other by your first name, you are equals. But if one is referred to by the last name and the other is by the first name, there is a hierarchy. One is higher than the other.

Notice that teachers are addressed as Mrs. (last name) while the children are addressed by their first names. Doctors are the same way. Even if he has given you permission to call him by his first name (“Call me Don”), you will likely still give him a title – Dr. Don. He is above you in skill, so how you address him reflects that.

If someone is referred to by their last name they are considered to be higher than the other person. There is a lady that I know who works at the pharmacy I go to. Her mother-in-law is one of my coworkers. I know this pharmacy tech by her first name and she knows my first name as well. But I was a bit taken aback when she referred to me by my last name. I was suddenly an authority figure and not an equal. I felt that she had said that there was a space between us, and that she was making herself lesser than me. Perhaps her boss would think it would be over-familiar to address customers by their first names, though.

There is a gentleman who comes to the library who is 30 years older than me and I referred to him by his last name. It is Mr. Vanderlip. At one point he said “No, call me Hank.” and that felt really wrong. I expressed to him that I really like calling him Mr. Vanderlip because it is such a cool name. But really the issue is that I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to call him by his last name because he is my elder.

Now, being an elder has something to do with the person’s age but it also has something to do with respect. Someone can be older than you but not an elder. So there is something in there about experience and authority and wisdom. An elder would be referred to by her or his last name, unless s/he gives you permission otherwise.

Empty, but not gone.

Some of you may know that I have (had?) a mirror site to BetsyBeadhead. It is (was?) called Empty Cross Community. It has (had?) only my religious writings. It is (was?) a place where I could sort out what I want to put in my first book, and also is (was?) a place where I could direct people who might be interested in just that topic.

I’m not sure what verb tense to use, though. It is a bit like Schrodinger’s cat right now. Is it alive, or not? Does it exist, or not? I hadn’t put anything new in it in a while because I was working on the book. Mostly it is sorted out, and I didn’t have anything new to put in it. For that, I’m grateful. In a way, it has served its purpose.

Yesterday I went to put a new post into it and discovered I couldn’t. I discovered that my page had been shut down for a violation of the Terms of Service. There has been no warning and no explanation. I’ve written WordPress and not heard back so far. I’ve reread the Terms of Service and I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I also think it is a bit severe for them to shut it down without a warning or a notification. There was no chance to correct whatever error they have found.

It is kind of like trying to go home and discovering that the bank has repossessed your house because they think you are doing something illegal in it.

Fortunately, it isn’t my house, but my “vacation home”, and I have copies of everything I’ve written. So nothing is lost but time. And some links. I have a website using the same name and it has a link to the blog which is broken now. I was using the blog to give more information than I could put on the website.

Possibly there is an issue with the name itself. There is a sculpture called the “Empty Cross”. The creator has trademarked the name. The idea of the cross is in harmony with the idea of my page. I’m not saying I’m part of them, but maybe they think I am – and because I’m not, they protested.

Maybe someone thought that the second page was stealing from the first page. Because there is nothing on the Empty Cross Community page that isn’t on the Betsy Beadhead page, perhaps they thought that someone on that page was stealing and reposting my blog.

Again, I don’t know. There was no warning, and no explanation.

Perhaps I need a new name for the second page. Perhaps I need to let it go and just focus on the book. But, I do like the idea of a focused blog page just for my religious writings. I don’t want to direct someone to my vision of a new church or a Bible study, only for them to get stuck in my rants about patriarchy, or wonder about my reading list for zombie fiction.

Or maybe that is the point. I am all those things.

I am a Jesus follower who reads zombie fiction, who has tattoos, who thinks that women are getting the short end of the stick, who works in a customer service job and gets annoyed at being treated like a servant, who tutors ESL and LD kindergartners… I am a lot of things, and some of them may seem to conflict with the idea of what defines a person who follows Jesus. Perhaps that is the issue. I want people to know that they can love Jesus and they don’t have to fit the mold of “Jesus freak”. That loving Jesus isn’t about wearing long dresses and homeschooling your kids and listening to “Christian” music and reading “Christian” books.

Well, it is about those things. But it isn’t JUST about those things. You can love Jesus and do none of those. Or all of them, and other things as well. Jesus’ arms are big enough to embrace us all. He was about turning the conventional way of thinking upside down back then too. He still is.

I certainly was having a problem with posting to both pages, using one browser. It is impossible to log into one WordPress site and then post on another one. It simply will only let me log into one at a time. So I can’t check the second one to see if I’ve already posted something from the first one in an easy way. I’d thought about installing another browser, in addition to Chrome, but now I’m thinking I need to use another blog platform.

And find another name. Anybody know a good name for what I’ve been writing about? I looked at ReVision – and that name is taken. I need something about how church isn’t what we think it is – it is less, and more at the same time. I need something that is easy to remember. I need something that embraces Orthodox and Pentecostal at the same time. I need something that goes back to the roots of what Jesus said and strips it all down. I need something that takes away all the pomp and puffery of two thousand years of humans getting in the way of God. We’ve put so much onto and into Jesus that we can’t see him anymore.

I need a name for that. I’m open to suggestions.

Aho!

I’ve recently heard the word “aho” used in several different gatherings. In the context it is being used it sounds like it means “I agree” or “awesome”. I looked it up, and it could be one of two things. According to Wikipedia, it is either a Native American word or a Japanese word.

If it is a Native American word (and the tribe is not specified, so it sounds questionable to me) it means something like what I think I’m hearing. It means something like “So be it” or “Amen.”

If it is Japanese, it means “idiot.”

So I’m not using this word.

First off, I’m not going to confuse people. If they know that the word exists in two different languages and means two entirely different things, they don’t know which meaning I’m using. If they don’t know what the word means, then it is going to be even more confusing.

Neither of these languages are my language. Not only are they not my native tongue, they are not languages I’ve learned and am fluent in. So it doesn’t make sense to use this word.

I totally respect the idea that sometimes there are words in other languages that aren’t in my language. Sometimes you have to borrow a word from another language because there isn’t a word in yours. Sometimes ideas are more fully expressed in another language.

But that isn’t the case here. There is a word. It is “Amen.”

Perhaps people frown on the use of this word. Perhaps people are afraid of it because they are refugees from church. I get that. I am.

But I’m giving up the church as we know it. I’m not giving up the idea of God, and of Jesus.

In the same way I’m wary of people who refer to God as Source or any of any other myriad of other terms I’m hearing. I’m not even sure what they are talking about. I’m not even sure they know either.

As for me, I’m going to keep saying “Amen” and “God”, because I think it is best to say what I mean and not be ambiguous about it. Perhaps it is politically correct to be vague and use broader terms, but after a while I’m not even sure if we are all taking about the same thing when we start using different words. So I’m sticking with the known good.