When my parents named me "Hubert John Arthur," it was their second try. My older brother was to have received that name, but through what they believed to be divine intervention, they scrapped that name and gave him the name of Victor Emmanuel.
They thought for sure that the second child would be a girl, but when I emerged, they went to the discarded names pile, and I was named. My father felt that a name was the frame into which the child was to grow and fill out. So, to later convince me that I was not a disappointment, he taught me the meaning of my name.
"Do you know what your name means?" he would ask me several times a week. "Yes," I would answer with some impatience, "A bright and shining light that God has so graciously given." It has been ingrained into my DNA. I am not sure where he got that definition, but I have been reminded all my life that I was born with a purpose.
When Zechariah sang today's hymn to his son, John (who would become the Baptizer), he sang it so often that Luke was able to pick it out of the oral tradition of the Church. John remembered all his days the song his father had sung ad nauseam, "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High." John filled out the frame.
Luke 1:68-79 (NRSV)
68 [Zechariah said:] "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 "He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David,
70 "as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 "that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 "Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 "the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us
74 "that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75 "in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 "to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 "to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
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