Ephesians 5: 1-16
As I write this, it’s my birthday. Please, don’t over-react! I am not hard up for birthday wishes. In fact, beginning early this morning, I heard from all of my children. I am a very blessed man.
I wasn’t going to say anything about my birthday until I looked at today’s date. “September 13.” Wow! More and more the year of my birth is sounding like ancient history. I had nothing to do with that day in history. It just happens that my mother could wait no longer. Another nameless male child was delivered in Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, Illinois. I am told that it even took a while to name me. My father wanted me to be named John Gary. My mother thought she held out for Gary John. What she failed to consider was that my father registered my name his choice and never bothered to tell her. Consequently, I went through much of my young life thinking that my mother’s choice became my name. Despite the birth certificate, my family called me Johnnie, but my school friends called me Gary.
All through my childhood I knew nothing of this name episode. Things never came to light until I applied for my Social Security Card. I cannot describe my amazement when the the card. Suddenly, I acquired a new name, John Gary Nordstrom.
Until I took a job working for Mr. Hodge, my name didn’t matter that much. When it came time for my boss to write my first check, he asked, “What’s your full name, son?” “Johnnie Nordstrom” was my quick response. “Is that John, or Johnnie?” I replied, “My real name is John.” “Do you have a middle name, John?” “Gary is my middle name.” I can still hear Mr. Hodge. “Hmm. Your name is John Gary Nordstrom.
Mr. Hodge carefully entered my real name on the check, followed by what seemed like a lengthy pause. He turned to me, looking me straight in the eye. “John, always be proud of your name. Try to never say anything or do anything that might defame your name. You may never be rich or famous, but John Gary Nordstrom, you will always have your name.”
I have never forgotten that profound piece of advice from Mr. Walter Hodge. Mr. Hodge, himself, was a prominent individual in our town. He was the president of L.C.N. Door Closers. My father spent some of his late-working years with that company as three siblings who have been highly successful in the door closer business.
Something that I read recently from Acts 15 occurs to me. “Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for His Name.” (KJV) At baptism, we take His Name. God took the risk of giving us His Name. The Corinthians were reminded by Paul that, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” He goes on to say that, “He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” In affect, we are commissioned to take His Name and his character and reconcile the world.
Every check and every document that I have signed since that “check signing day” with Mr. Hodge, I have written, John Gary Nordstrom.
A greater than Mr. Hodge continues to remind me of a new name given to me by God Himself. Because of my “new birth” in Christ, my new name is Christian, Christ follower
I set out this morning to write my remarks based on Ephesians 5: 1-16. Paul heads this chapter by asking the Ephesians to be “imitators of God.” He continues by calling on the church to remove any “hint of immorality.” “There should be no obscenity or, foolish talk or course joking.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME