Pastor’a viewpoint: May 19, 2018

Published 2:44 pm Monday, May 21, 2018

How did your parents choose your name? Mine was easy; I was named after my dad. Then when our oldest son was born, we used the Charles, but picked up the Alfred from Mary Ella’s grandfather … it worked especially well since his name was Charles Alfred! Jim was named for a cousin who coached baseball at the University of Georgia.
We met Vince Dooley at a Chamber of Commerce banquet in Alma and, since I was the ministerial president, we sat at the head table. Actually Mrs. Dooley was speaking, but Vince was there and we walked to the head table together. I asked him if he knew my son who was a student at UGA? He laughed and asked me his name. I told him it was Jim Whatley and he laughed again and said, “He’s my best friend; our families vacation together.” Later, we bought and he signed his latest book “to the other Jim Whatley!”
In the beginning, we only had one name, but as the population grew, we added a second name. Sometimes it was descriptive: Carol the Cook became Carol Cook. Or they used family names: Bob the son of John became Bob Johnson. And now most of us have three names …
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food …
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:1-7)
Did you ever, as I do, have trouble with the names in the Bible? I tell people to simply mumble as they pass over those names, but that’s actually not a good idea. We ought to pay more attention to those names and the people they represent. The disciples established the church in the Middle East during that time, but they could never have done it if they were busy taking care of the day-to-day activities at their local churches. So, they asked for help …
Stephen, the first name in this list, was later martyred for his faith; his name means “crown.” And just when I expected find new treasures in the meaning of these names, I looked up Philip which means “friend of horses.” Sometimes a name is just a name? But every name is important and there is a story behind every name? Didn’t you ever wonder about Procorus or Parmenas? I’d really like to know their stories?

Charles “Buddy” Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland & Bold Springs UMC and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.