Names Have Been Changed 
Monday, March 13, 2006, 11:10 AM - Extra Christy
The Firestone Blimp? Let me explain, a new blimp is being built here. We love looking up at the lighter than air ship floating above Akron during its test flights. It is yet unnamed so the local newspaper is printing suggestions. One of the least favorite was putting the name of historic archrival Firestone on the Goodyear Blimp. (You can read the rest in a series of columns about the blimp at

Names that are chosen rather than given at birth are interesting. Usually nicknames grow from memorable event, usually unfavorable, or a physical attribute, usually unflattering. So to not offend any humans, an example of both kinds of nicknames is an unfortunate dog I knew whose name was abruptly changed to “Tripod”.

But did you know that God changes names? If your church follows the lectionary scripture readings you heard yesterday that Abram became Abraham, changing from “exalted Father” to “father of a multitude” and Sarai became Sarah, moving from “quarrelsome” to “princess”. Both got upgrades, a rarity in the nickname world. (Genesis 17)

Not only upgrades, but since Abram and Sarai were neither royalty nor parents at the time, God's name changes called them upward into promise, instead of holding them down with a reminder of a past misadventure or an unwanted physical condition.

Now Jesus' most famous naming, naming Peter, (“Rock”), seems unquestionably to be a calling Simon (“one who hears”) upward into promise after Simon proclaims Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God:

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:17-18
But I wonder if that is the whole story of the “Rock” name. I know how guys can be, sadly we haven't changed that much in 2,000 years. You see, even though Matthew calls him “Peter”, two chapters earlier we read about the yet to be renamed Simon:
Then (Simon) got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Matthew 14:29-30
Now, I can imagine the reaction of a bunch of fishermen to that showoff Simon who tries to walk on water but then sinks like a ROCK! “Rocky” he would be for the rest of his life, and not in a good way.

Now this part isn't Bible, but I like to imagine that Jesus had just about enough of the teasing and found a way to turn a reminder of a faith that can't hold water into a promise of a faith that builds up others. Yes, Simon is a Rock, not because he sinks in water, but because he is the solid foundation of the church that is to rise. Take that teasers!

Christ is like that. He is our redeemer. He takes us from our past sins that clings to us like our very name, weighing us down. and changes us, lifting us up as if we were lighter than air.

May Christ make your name something to rise up to,

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