It’s a strange sensation naming someone. At the birth of our son, we were handed a little big ball of skin and bones who had been gently developing inside his mother. Although we had poured a lot of thought into his name, and we knew when he was born what that name would be, it was still strange naming him. He has to get used to his name, but so do we. Just minutes into his life I was handed my son for a little father-son time, I repeated his name to him and to me – from now on this child will be known as Matthew Joshua.
Everyone else you meet in life comes with a name already attached. “Hello, my name is… such-and-such”, and from that moment on that is what we call them. With Matthew it was different. We were given the responsibility of deciding on his name, and we will teach him what his name is.
In the second chapter of Genesis, Adam is given the responsibility by God of naming the birds and plants and animals. He later names his wife ‘woman’ (Gen 2:23) because she was taken out of man, and ‘Eve’ (3:20) because she will be the mother of all people. Their responsibility is not just to name, but to reproduce and name. This is not quite co-creation, but in God’s goodness he allows people made in his image share in the creativity of creation as they go on creating more ikons of God. Each of these will be named in turn.
Matthew means “Gift from God” from a Hebrew root. His middle name, Joshua, is again from a Hebrew root and means “God is salvation”. Our responsibility to name and reproduce comes as a gift from the source and sustainer of all life.