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What’s In a Name ?

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that it was the day the church remembers a saint called Wynfrith.  He was originally from Crediton in Devon, but spent a lot of his adult life in continental Europe as an evanglist and teacher.  By then he had a new name – Boniface, and it is by that name he is more generally known.

This reminds me of a retired vicar we knew when we lived in Beverley.  All his adult life until retirement he had been known as Grenville, but he had another (middle ?) name of James.  He decided that to mark the start of a new phase of his life, he would now be known as James. 

James is a version of the biblical name Jacob.  Jacob also had a name change at a crucial point in his life.  It was the night that he had struggled with an unknown man by the brook Jabbok, and he is given the new name of Israel.

After wrestling all night,  The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”  Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.” The man said, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Jacob.”  The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” 

Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”  The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.  Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”  (From Genesis chapter 32)

So, back to Wynfrith.  I would have stuck with that name rather than Boniface because it means ‘Friend of Peace.’

In fact, if I ever change my name, it will be to Wynfrith, and I will ask to be known as Wyn.

Wyn Evans, that sounds fine to my ears.

Grace and Peace.


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