Saturday, January 01, 2011

Taking upon yourself a name

Last night, due to a Primary lesson I’m preparing, I was trying to think about how to explain the concept of taking upon oneself the name of Jesus Christ when one receives baptism.  Children understand the idea of identifying themselves as individuals by their first names and being a “Jones” or a “Smith” by affiliation because of their last name.  But when you talk about adding Christ’s name to your identity they often don’t understand, because, of course, you don’t change what you call yourself.  Your name doesn’t change, even though you have gone through the formal ceremony of deciding to become Christ's “son” or “daughter”.

But how about if we thought about it rather like a title of responsibility?  Think about Albert who married Queen Victoria.  When he married her he was Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, (and after 1857) Duke of Saxony, but his friends and family simply called him Albert.  After he married Victoria went by “HRH Prince Albert” in formal circles and was called simply “Albert” by his wife.  He would not have introduced himself as “Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony” or even “HRH Prince Albert” though he was duke of Saxony and designated as a Prince and always knew that about himself.  Perhaps in his mind, every time he introduced himself or said his name in one of its shortened forms, he was aware of the parts unspoken, though he felt no need to mention them.

Which made me think, what if, every time I introduced myself or said who I was on the phone, I said my usual name out loud and then in my head added “a disciple of Jesus Christ”.  What a pointed reminder it might be to me each time about how I should be treating the person with whom I was speaking or what my priorities should be or how I might better respond to the challenges or opportunities of that particular day.  It might not be a bad idea.

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