Week of Proper 7: Thursday, Year 2   2 comments

Above:  King Zedekiah

What’s in a Name?

JUNE 28, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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2 Kings 24:8-17 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; his mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.  He did what was displeasing to the LORD, just as his father had done.  At that time, the troops of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched against Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against the city while his troops  were besieging it.  Thereupon King Jehoiachin of Judah, along with his mother, courtiers, commanders, and officers, surrendered to the king of Babylon.  The king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.  He carried off from Jerusalem all the treasures of the House of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace; he stripped off all the golden decorations in the Temple of the LORD–which King Solomon of Israel had made–as the LORD had warned.  He exiled all of Jerusalem; all the commanders and all the warriors–ten thousand exiles–as well as the craftsmen and smiths; only the poorest people in the land were left.  He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon; and the king’s wives and officers and the notables of the land were brought as exiles from Jerusalem to Babylon.  All the able men, to the number of seven thousand–all of them warriors, trained for battle–and a thousand craftsmen and smiths were brought to Babylon as exiles by the king of Babylon.  And the king of Babylon appointed Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, changing his name to Zedekiah.

Psalm 79 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O God, the heathen here come into your inheritance;

they have profaned your holy temple;

they have made Jerusalem a heap of rubble.

2  They have given the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the air,

and the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the field.

3  They have shed their blood like water on every side of Jerusalem,

and there was no one to bury them.

4  We have become a reproach to our neighbors,

an object of scorn and derision to those around us.

5  How long will you be angry, O LORD?

will your fury blaze like fire for ever?

6  Pour out your wrath upon the heathen who have not known you

and upon kingdoms that have not called upon your Name.

7  For they have devoured Jacob

and made his dwelling a ruin.

Remember not our past sins;

let your compassion be swift to meet us;

for we have been brought very low.

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name;

deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake.

10 Why should the heathen say, “Where is their God?”

Let it be known among the heathen and in our sight

that you avenge the shedding of your servant’s blood.

11 Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you,

and by your great might spare those who are condemned to die.

12 May the revilings with which they reviled you, O Lord,

return seven-fold into their bosoms.

13 For we are your people and the sheep of your pasture;

we will give you thanks for ever

and show forth your praise from age to age.

Matthew 7:21-29 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

It is not everyone who says to me, “Lord! Lord!” who will get into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven.  Many will say to me on that Day, “Lord! Lord!  Was it not in your name that we prophesied, and by your name that we drove out demons, and by your name that we did many mighty acts?”  Then I will say to them plainly, “I never knew you!  Go away from me, you who do wrong!”

Everyone, therefore, who listens to this teaching of mine and acts upon it, will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.  And the rain fell, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew, and beat about that house, and it did not go down, for its foundations were on rock.  And anyone who listens to this teaching of mine and does not act upon it, will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  And the rain fell, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat down that house, and it went down, and its downfall was complete.

When Jesus had finished this discourse, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority and not like their scribes.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 7:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/week-of-proper-7-thursday-year-1/

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Since we left off in 2 Kings…

Jehoahaz/Shallum, son of Josiah, reigned for three months in 609 B.C.E.  The text tells us that he displeased God.  Pharaoh Neco, who had killed Josiah, deposed and imprisoned Jehoahaz/Shallum and forced Judah to pay an indemnity.

Eliakim became the vassal King of Judah as Jehoiakim.  He reigned for eleven years (608-598 B.C.E.).  The vassal king served not only Egypt but Babylon.

Then, in today’s reading, Jehoiachin/Jeconiah reigned for three months before King Nebuchadnezzar captured him, installed uncle Mattaniah as King Zedekiah, and began the process of exiling selected subjects of Judah.  Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign (597-586 B.C.E.) was quite difficult.

There had been a long period of sunshine during the reign of Josiah.  But he died at the hand of Pharaoh Neco, so the final stage of national decline began.  There were four more kings in 23 years.  Foreign powers chose three of those monarchs and rename two of them.  Darkness had fallen.

When a foreign power dictates a royal name, the sovereign carries a daily reminder of his subjugation to that power.

What’s in a name?  It carries the meaning we humans attach to it.  My parents chose to give me a distinguished name, one which works well in adulthood.  “Kenneth ” is a Gaelic name meaning “born of fire.”  (Make of that, O reader, what you will.)  I have identified three Scottish kings, one Scottish saint, and a Welsh saint named “Kenneth.”  It is a good name.  “Randolph” is my uncle’s first name.  As a young child, I dreaded the moment during each grade level when the teacher read my full name aloud, for my secret was out and many of my classmates mocked me by singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  They were idiots.

There are various venerable traditions for naming a child.  To name a child after a saint is a Roman Catholic custom.  Or one might name a child after one or more family members or after a historical figure.  My paternal great-grandfather was George Washington Barrett.  My favorite example of deriving a name from the past is Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar.

Among monarchs and pontiffs there is a tradition of regnal names.   Hence Joseph Ratzinger is also Pope Benedict XVI.   And King Haakon VII of Norway (reigned 1905-1957), one of my favorite historical figures, was born in Denmark as Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel Oldenburg, or Prince Carl for short.

Identity is precious.  Who defines us? Do our enemies define us and our names?  If they do, they have power over us.  Most of us do not choose or change our names but, if we are fortunate, those who named us did so very well.  Regardless of who named us, may we own our names and know that we do not even own ourselves, for we all belong to God.  And the divine name for each of us is “beloved.”

KRT

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