by Loreena Thiessen
When someone asks, “Who are you?” what do you say? You tell them your name, of course.
Your name identifies you. It was chosen especially for you. It sets you apart. It may also show something of your personality.
Your name has meaning. Your name may have been chosen for its meaning. A parent may wish their child to be or become what the name means.
Your last name, or surname, is about family and history. It tells which family you are a part of and where you came from. For example, a German name has German roots, a French name has its origins in France, a Russian name is from Russia, and so on.
All names have meaning. Many places in Canada have names that are rooted in their Indigenous language. The name Winnipeg means muddy water in the Cree language and describes the murky water of Lake Winnipeg. The Red River is named for the red earth of its river banks. Canada means settlement in the Huron-Iroquois language. Steinbach means stony creek in German. The name Ottawa is from the Algonquin word adawe, which means to trade.
King Henry VII of England first called Newfoundland, the new found land, when John Cabot first discovered it in 1497, and it stuck.
Names are important. By naming something we understand the world and each other better.
Names are important in the Bible too. The name Adam means from the earth. God created him from the earth and thereafter he is called Adam. You can read that in Genesis 1:27. Adam’s first job was to name all the animals God placed in his care.
The name Abraham means the father of many nations. This was God’s promise to him. The name Sarah means happy. It is the joy she experienced in becoming a mother. David means beloved; David was Israel’s favourite king. Esther means star; she starred as a heroine when she saved her people’s lives by risking her own. Job means persecuted. Job suffered the loss of all his possessions and his entire family just to see if he would still believe in God.
Jesus has many different names. Each one tells us who he is. Long before he was born he was promised to be the people’s Messiah or rescuer. You can read that in Daniel 9:25. Isaiah 9:6 says he is the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is also called Immanuel, meaning God with us (Isaiah 7:14). The angels told the shepherds he is a Saviour, and Christ the Lord.
The wise men said he was King of the Jews and a Governor, who will rule Israel. His followers called him Rabbi or teacher.
Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” He is our Messiah too. He came for you, also. He wants to be your Shepherd and to rescue you from all evil. Read Psalm 23.
Activity: Explore your name.
Need: pencil, note paper, recording device, your parents or grandparents to interview.
Do: Interview your parents or grandparents.
Questions about your first or given name:
Who named you?
What does your name mean?
Why did they choose this particular name for you?
Questions about your family or surname:
Who are the people in your family with your family name?
How many are they?
Where does your family name have its roots?
Take notes or record the answers. Share with your family members.