Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 31 July 2022
If you inhabit the same social media universe as Leisa and me, you’ll know that in a few weeks time we shall be driving down to Toogoolwah, in the Brisbane Valley, to fetch a new German Shepherd Dog. She is a great-granddaughter of our late, beloved and missed, Yannie. Her name is Storm, or Kassaar Storm-followed-by-sire-and-dam to be exact, because that’s how the breeder (Kassaar GSDs) styles their pedigree names.
We’re going to change her everyday name (can’t change a registered pedigree name) because Leisa doesn’t fancy shouting across a dog-park or beach, “Storm, come!” Passers-by might think that she’s a particularly inarticulate representative from the Bureau of Meteorology. And “Stormy” carries overtones of, well, you know.
Leisa has been reading up on how to get a dog accustomed to a new name. Our new dog (I’ll get to her name in a sec) is 18 months old, still a teenager in doggie years, and she’ll adapt pretty quickly. We first went for “Miffy”, a contraction of Myfanywy. A Lutheran friend (down-to-earth, these Lutherans, like their forebear Martin and his beer-brewing wife, Katherina) pointed out that she’s a German Shepherd, not a Welsh Corgi. So we’ve plumped for Maud. When I want her to go to the loo before bed, I can sing, “Come into the garden, Maud …”
In the Bible, especially in the Hebrew scriptures, names were important. They told you something about a person. It might be good, Jonathan means “Yahweh has given a son”; Reuben means “Look! A son”, or could wish a blessing, Isaiah means “Yahweh’s salvation”; Immanuel means “God be/is with us”. Or bad. Toward the end of Isaiah, the nation of Israel is called “Deserted” and “Desolate”. It wouldn’t be surprising if many of us reading this Ramble have felt at times that those should be our names. But here’s how God retrains Israel to think of themselves (Is 62), and retrains us:
You will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendour in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you.