Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

Day 51, May 3, 2020
“He knows your name”

John 10 is a wonderful chapter of the bible that has Jesus telling us he is our Good Shepherd. In John 10 Jesus tells us that contrary to the Devil, who only comes to steal, kill and destroy, as the Good Shepherd Jesus has come to bring us life, and life abundantly. And in John 10 Jesus, our Good Shepherd, shares with us the good news that he knows his sheep by name. He literally knows us by name, from A-Z. Throughout the bible you can find a name for every letter in the alphabet…well, for almost every letter in the alphabet. It’s almost as if the bible is telling us, from A-Z, Jesus knows us all by name. There is…
A…as in Aaron, Abednego, Ahaz, and Abiah
B…as in Bartholomew, Bartimeus, Baruch, and that Son of Encouragement Barnabas
Cas in Calno and Candace
D…as in Dan, Daniel, David, and Dorcas, that kind woman from Acts 9 who was always doing good and helping others…that same Dorcas whose namesake invented the famous Thanksgiving favorite, the Green Bean Casserole.
E…as in Elijah and Ebenezer
F…as in Felix and Festus
G…as in Gehazi, Gershom, and Gezer
H…as in Habakkuk and Hezekiah
I…as in the laughter inspiring Isaac and the powerful prophet Isaiah
J…as in Jabez whose prayer touched so many and Joshua who fought the battle of Jericho
K…as in Kir
L…as in Leah, Lois, and Lydia…L has lots of women’s names
M…as in Martha, Malachi, Matthew, and the trusting young virgin with the beautiful name of Mary
N…as in Noah who lived on an Ark and N as in Nicodemus who came to Jesus in the dark
O…as in Ophrah and the prophet Obadiah
P…as in Peter and Paul, Philemon and Philip, and Priscilla who got top billing over her husband
Q…as in Quartus and Quirinius, only two with Q, but Quirinius was governor at the time of the birth of
you know who!
R…as in Rebecca and Rahab, Rhoda and Ruth
S…as in Silas who traveled with Paul
T…as in Thomas who doubted but then stood tall
U…as in Ucal, Uphas and Uzal, names that are strange, one and all
V…as in Vashti, the Queen who from her husband’s favor did fall
X…as in Xerxes, Vashti’s husband who didn’t have a lot on the ball
Y…as in Yakob, Yoav and Yoel (the Hebrew rendering of Jacob, Joab, and Joel)
Z…as in Zacchaeus, Zechariah, and Zebedee…and at the end of the list is Zuzim.

A name for every letter in the alphabet. Multiple names for every letter in the alphabet. That is certainly good news. There are lots of names, and a letter for every name, except…except there is no name in the bible that starts with W. Could it be true? It might not matter much to you Alberts and Zechariahs, or any other letter in between, but some of us think W is a pretty important first initial. Apparently, there is no name in the whole bible that starts with W. Somebody posed the following query on the internet: “We were playing Scattergories last night, and this one stumped us all. Is there anyone in the bible who has a name that begins with W?” This was the answer: “Woman at the well.” Clever answer. I guess that works…but no Wayne? Not even a Waynina or Waynona, a Waynette or a Wanda?

Feeling rather left out, I decided to open the first bible I was ever given, the bible that was presented to me by my 3rd grade Sunday school teachers, two saints from the First Presbyterian Church in Hanford, California, Rosemary Knudson and Frances Nicholas. I was determined to start at the beginning and read all the way to the end to see if there wasn’t at least one W name in the whole of the bible. Well, before I go any further I also ought to note that under the letter J you can find the name Jehovah Jireh. Jehovah Jireh means “The Lord will provide.” Faced with the daunting task of reading all 66 books of the bible, from Genesis to Revelation to find if there was one W name in the bible, God provided. There was a W name on the very first page. There was a W on the very first page! I had not even come to the beginning, to the book of Genesis, and the first page had a name with W. Jehovah Jireh! God provides!

There on the first page of my bible, my 3rd grade bible, the bible that has helped shape my faith and sustain me through joys and sorrows for fifty years, there was a W name on the very first page. And it was my name! Right above the place where Rosemary Knudson and Frances Nicholas wrote their signatures were these words, “The Holy Bible, presented to Wayne Eberly”. There was a W in the bible. And it is in my own bible.

As happy as I was to find a W name in my bible, it is even more wonderful to think of that J name I mentioned, Jehovah Jireh. God provides. In so many ways, God provides. In a world filled with billions of people, in a world where it is very tempting to think no one knows us by name, a world that does not seem to care about individuals, a world where too often lives are forgotten, people are excluded, a world filled with vulnerable people who are even enslaved and trafficked, in a world like that, we are bold enough to believe God has the name Jehovah Jireh. We are bold enough to believe God provides. How do we know that? Well, there is another J name. That name is Jesus. Jesus, God’s Beloved Son, is the Good Shepherd who made an amazing promise. He said, “The Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name.” Do you hear that? Jesus is saying, “I know my sheep by name.”

On a Sunday morning when our Scripture lesson is about this Good Shepherd who not only knows his sheep by name, but who even lays down his life for his sheep, I ask you to say a short prayer with me. “Dear Jesus, you are my Good Shepherd. You know me by name. You even laid down your life for me. Jesus, my name is ­­­__. Thank you for knowing me by name and for loving me with your everlasting love. Amen.”

With the love of Christ,