Surnamed Children of God

Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

Last weekend my son, Kelly William Hannon, was baptized. One of the greatest blessings for me was to be able to share that day with my grandfather. Kelly, you see, is named after my grandfather (who it turns out is named after his). William Hannon was the first American born Hannon in 1869 in NYC. Since then, William Hannon has been handed down to my grandfather, father, me, and now my son. It’s sort of a family affair.

But as I reflected on how special that was, a Bible reading jarred me awake. It was the Isaiah text assigned for the day. In the passage God talks a lot about names, but perhaps the most notable mention came in Isaiah 45:4. God said, “I call you by name, I surname you…

As I was thinking about how special it was that Kelly had my family name, God reminded me that Kelly bears a far more important one. The best name Kelly bears does not claim him as a Hannon, but instead as a child of God.
That’s what the surname is, right? It’s the family name. It’s the name that tells people who your people are. It’s the name that tells people where you come from. And God says that that surname comes from Him.

So Kelly’s birth certificate might name him as another William Hannon, which is cool, I suppose, but Kelly’s baptismal certificate names him something else: Kelly, child of God. And that’s more than cool. That’s transformative, graceful, and life-giving.

And the same promise God made for Kelly last week, God makes for us. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”

A lot of people have told me lately that my family is complete now that we have a son. Frankly, I find that offensive. Like the rest of my life, I have never found it to be lacking anything at all, and yet God continues to pour more blessing into it. And in the end I truly believe the Hannon surname pales in comparison to surname God gives him, and I say that speaking from personal experience. Being a Hannon has been alright, but being a child of God has been way better.

Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, and more will try to tell you where you come from, and they certainly won’t be wrong, but they won’t be 100% correct either. Remember who surnames you. Remember who your people are. Remember where you come from. Remember the most important name you have doesn’t come from your parents, but that you should be called a child of God—and that is what you are.

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.