It looks like a list. It reads like a list. At the end of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul sends a personal greeting of affirmation and gratitude to 27 separately named co-laborers. Yes, the letter to the Romans is filled with memorable verses and overarching themes that were foundational to the Reformation and is still foundational to framing the theology of the church. But it also instructs us about the importance of names.
Paul sends personal greetings such as:
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me.” 16:3-4a
“Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” 16:5b
“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” 16:13
What’s in a Name?
Names are part of our identity. My full name, Julius Ted Medenblik, is a reflection of being named after both my grandfathers. When Paul writes “greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord” you can imagine that two sisters (maybe even twins) served side by side for the gospel.
Names are part of our “belonging.” When Jackie was pregnant with our second child, we began to discuss names for this child with our 7-year-old son, Joshua. During our listing of possible names, Joshua stopped us and said, “You can’t name the baby with those names. The name has to begin with J or else the baby will not know it belongs to us.” That wisdom led to our daughter being named Julianne. That wisdom also led to our naming family dogs and cats – Jet, Joey, Jethro, Jasmine, Jeremiah and the list goes on. We may not have been original, but we have been consistent.
Finally, names always carry a story. Recently, Calvin Seminary hosted the dedication of the Veenstra Legacy Garden. The story of Dewey and Wilma Veenstra through the words of their children was read. In addition, we were blessed with many people who had identified names for themselves and their family. Stories filled the air at the dedication.
As I walk by the Veenstra Legacy Garden and see the different names engraved on each brick, I am encouraged to know that Calvin Theological Seminary is blessed by a community of support that has surrounded the ongoing ministry of the seminary since 1876. Those names of identity, belonging, and story are part of the living legacy that God has brought together to build a community and build Calvin Theological Seminary.
In two weeks we will welcome new students to Calvin Seminary. Please join me in taking time to read the list of these students and pray for them, name by name. Some of you may get to know more of the stories of these students, but all of us can begin thanking God for these persons who have taken a “next step” in receiving education and training as part of their responding to the call of God on their life.
I have also listed each participant from the Facing Your Future program that recently ended. Please take the time to read each name and pray for the students’ futures.
Thank you for praying for their unfolding stories!
|Facing Your Future|
|Trey Aguirre – Austin, Texas|
|Izhar Alvarez – Artesia, California|
|Quintin Attema – Smithville, Ontario|
|Micaela De Jong – Burlington, Ontario|
|Matthew Guichelaar – Brantford, Ontario|
|Thomas Huisman – Hudsonville, Michigan|
|James Jeninga – Brookfield, Wisconsin|
|Jenny Koopmans – Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Cinthya Martinez – Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Kyra Newhouse – Grand Junction, Colorado|
|Anna Persenaire – Tinley Park, Illinois|
|Aren Plante – Caledonia, Ontario|
|Christiana Reitsma – Smithers, British Columbia|
|Maiah Rop – Rockford, Michigan|
|Aydan Schat – St. Catharines, Ontario|
|Ian Smit – Sarnia, Ontario|
|Onalee Sneller – Lake City, Michigan|
|Tyler Triemstra – Kalamazoo, Michigan|
|Jacob tMannitje – Whitby, Ontario|
|Laura Vander Horst – Hamilton, Ontario|
|Jason Vander Woude – Chandler, Minnesota|
|Katherine Van Herk – Houston, Texas|
|Carley Van Swol – Grand Rapids, Michigan|