When I was a child I often longed for a different name. I thought about several possibilities. Perhaps, if I were to name myself, I'd call me Bob or Jim. I was not at the time quite sure what I would want to call me; all I knew for certain was that I wouldn't be Alvin. That was my father's name, not mine. I was searching for my own identity and I wanted to insist that I was not my father. I had to be ME!
It's interesting how people got their names in the Bible. The answer to that is not always shared. However, in some instances, we know. For instance, when Eve gave birth to her first born, she called him "Brought-forth" or, in her language, Cain. Martin Luther ventures a guess as to why she called him this. He suggests that she believed the promise God made that the woman's offspring would crush the head of the tempting serpent (Genesis 3:15) would now come to pass through Cain. How wrong she was.
At other times people were given new names by God Himself. Abram (exalted father) is an example. When the Lord revealed to him that through him all nations on earth would be blessed, he received a new name to remind him and others of God's promise. From that time onward, he was to be called Ab-Raham (Father-of-Multitude).
In my own case, my name has not changed. However, my appreciation of the name has. Years ago I searched a library, finding a couple books about names. They suggested that my name means wise friend or the beloved one. They further suggested that it is rooted in the Hebrew language. That got me going to the Hebrew name for beloved (David) and I began to tell people that my name is the Saxon version of David.
What a stretch! And who cares anyway? What is much more significant to me is that my name is my history, my reputation, my relationships. I am the husband of Sylvia, the father of Jeffrey, Nathan and Cheryl Lee. Alvin is the grandfather of Shawn, Patrick, Cassandra, Aric, Caleigh and Kjerstyn. Alvin was once the pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church, Resurrection Lutheran Church, King of Kings Lutheran Church, a graduate of Concordia Seminary, and so forth.
Alvin is also a man who has a Blog, gets stirred up about corruption in government and the murder of unborn infants. You get the picture.
So it goes on and on, to the point that I do not know how many know who I am or have opinions about me. However, all of it is part of my name.
Yet I have left out the most significant part of all. Alvin is the baptized son of God, reborn in Jesus Christ, chosen by Him and blessed with His Spirit. And Alvin will live forever, because of that wondrous work performed in him and through him by his Lord. That makes Alvin Jesus' brother and brother to countless others. That makes him a part of the noble and priestly family of the King of kings and the Great High Priest. I shall never be able to exhaust the wonder of all of that. Never!
One final thought. I recently learned that a better translation of my name is Elf-friend. Elf? Where did that come from? Many, many in the distant past carried this name, some of them members of this or that earthly nobility. But friend of the Elves? Who are the Elves? Who in this scientific, materialist world of the 21st century believes they even exist? A few, I suppose, people like JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis fans. I must admit to being among their number. Perhaps I'm living up to my name after all.