Monday, March 17, 2008

What's in a name?

Last Friday (7th March) my wife and I had our third child, our second son. Yesterday morning, as is our custom, we dedicated him to God in our church meeting.

As well as praying for the child (and us, his parents) and committing him to God, we have an opportunity for members of the church to speak out things that they sensed God saying about the child's future. (The "gift of prophecy" and inspired words and revelations of various kinds are an important part of our church's way of life. Paul the Apostle speaks of such gifts in the New Testament [see 1 Corinthians 12-14] and charismatic churches of many kinds practise them today.)

Here are some of the words spoken about our new son:

"A promise of God fulfilled; like Isaac, he will be dedicated to God in a special way."

"One like David who was celebrated for being Israel’s deliverer; he was raised up for a purpose by God and I felt that this boy was a bit like that – he is going to play a pivotal role in the church in the future."

"He’s going to have a ministry of reconciliation from a very young age – even as young as two; even amongst children he plays with."

"I saw your son, tall of stature, and he was standing over you and behind you as a family, holding a spear, stretched out in front of you all, pointing to the horizon and there were other people gathered with you. I believe he’s going to be a man who shows the direction, God’s direction, to others..."

"God is calling this boy to be a man who is a champion of justice; but with justice and championing justice come all sorts of temptations to compromise and that he will require the assistance of you, his brothers and sisters, as he grows up, to become that champion and to stand firm in difficult situations."

"He’ll be someone others can rely on like Peter, the rock."

Another custom we have as a church, is that quite often the name of the child will be based on the words spoken at the dedication. We found it quite difficult to come to a decision this time. Considering that the names David, Isaac, Solomon, Moses, Peter, Nathan, Matthew were explicitly mentioned and many others alluded to, our son could have ended up with more names than a Rugby union team. In fact, one brother even referred to this in what he said yesterday morning:

"He’s have 'many names'; he’s going to be one that wears many different hats and some of them are going to be quite zany and outrageous and some of them are going to be quite shocking and some of them are going to be quite offensive in some ways, but they’ll all be of God and they’ll all be good."

In the end, we didn't choose any of the names that had been explicitly mentioned, but rather the name of a biblical leader who embodied qualities many had spoken of: Samuel, the last judge of Israel, prophet, anointer of kings, given to God from birth [see 1 Samuel 1-2]; also Ben (meaning simply "son"): a promised son dedicated in a special way, a particular (though mysteriously painful) bond with his mother, a son of the church, in a particular way ‘given’. And strong: Peter- (Piers)-like, both in terms of the apostle Peter and Piers, a leader in our church who my wife and I love dearly and look up to.

So we named him Samuel Ben Piers.

May God bless you, son.


Aidan said...


Anonymous said...

some great ministry and a great name

My name means "God is gracious" and my middle name means "Gracious"

I think my parents must have felt in need of grace when I was born!

Shoshana said...


I'm really interested in living in community. I'd be interested to know how you find it as a parent.