There are wonderful names of people in our world. Some so unusual and full of meaning that we love to savor the name. Repeat them over and over, delighting in their sound, and in the meaning behind the names.
One such name is growing up in our family. It is the middle name of a mid-teen granddaughter who loves to use that middle name rather than her given first name. It is the word TENEBRAE. It comes from the worship life of the church. It is the word for the hushed evening service of the Thursday of Holy Week, remembering Jesus’ last night with His disciples. His dearest friends, there in the Upper Room, where Jesus broke bread and gave it to these friends, saying “This is My blood of the New Covenant, shed for you. Drink you all, of it.”
The foreshadowing of His sacrifice of His life, His body and blood, that would be given up in His death on the cross next day – His dying for the sins of the world, that those who believe in Him might be forgiven, and then their lives saved, for eternity.
That service, with the lighting of candles, and its deep remembering of Jesus’ gift of that life for them is call the “Office of Tenebrae.” It is a holy, beautiful name, recalling Jesus’ great gift of His love for the world.
That beautiful young granddaughter in our family, cherishes and holds close, without fanfare, that name of love, given her from their faith by her parents at her birth. We love to say the name with all its deep meaning in that young person’s life.
I bear my father’s name, and cling to the “Junior” that reminds me and others that I am the second in a short line of Arthurs.
And yet, despite the importance of a great variety of names, I have occasional blocks of names and places that are very dear to me. Molly and I laugh about the temporary failure to remember names of people and places very important to us, saying, “Well, one of us remembers the first name and the other comes up with the second – sometimes hours later.”
It’s a slight embarrassment common to us old folks, especially as it comes in an arena of our thinking we once were good at.
We’re perfectly aware that persistent forgetfulness can also be a warning sign of the onset of some forms of dementia, a dreaded condition that none of us wants in ourselves or our loved ones. And surely it is not something we want to ridicule in any other person’s life. Perhaps, particularly when it involves public people.
Yet, comics in the media are already asking, “Can we laugh at President Biden yet?” They want to make fun of his memory struggles. But, are they funny? Are people with speech impediments, or trouble walking, or people with any of a variety of deformities fair game for anyone who hankers to ridicule others?
It is interesting to look at Jesus’ interaction with people. He was an indefatigable defender of people – of the blind and lame, of the speechless and the infirm. He looked for signs of faith and there He gave hope.
It was the self-righteous, the mockers, the proud, and the hypocritical for whom He saved His stinging rebukes. For the helpless and hopeless, the strugglers and stragglers, Jesus had instantaneous compassion.
Do we want to be like Jesus? Then, be ready to uphold and defend, to heal and to embrace. Be a mediator and advocate.
You will continually surprise the world. You will be ever “on the Lord’s side.” And our name, whatever it is, will be honored, with Him. We can try.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES