To think about our own names and their meanings. To explore the Christian understanding of Jesusí name.
by The Revd Sophie Jelley
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To think about our own names and their meanings. To explore the Christian understanding of Jesus’ name.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a book of baby names.
- Some Mr Men or Little Miss books (or a Mr Men wall hanging).
- Bible with Matthew 1.21 marked ready to read.
- Tell the children your whole name, if appropriate, or just the name they know you by if you prefer. Tell them what your name means and anything special about it, e.g. named after another family member; comes from another country; dates back to the Russian revolution (take care to use terms the children will understand or explain them well). If you have changed a name due to marriage you could talk about that – whatever helps to introduce the subject of names and that they are special to us.
Our names often mean something: your parents may have chosen your name because it is something they like or reminds them of an event or time of year. Examples are Holly, Hazel and June. Show them the baby book and read a few names out and what they mean. You could read some funny names with amusing meanings but be careful not to offend!
- Ask the children about their names – who has a middle name, or more than one? Try to include a variety of names from different countries and cultures, reflecting the diversity of the school. Names are special and we should be careful how we use them and not be unkind about them or make fun of people’s names or give them cruel nicknames.
- Show the Mr Men books and enthuse about them – their names are special because they tell us what kind of characters they are. You could ask, why Mr Jelly? Because he’s scared of everything, etc.
- Show the Bible and say that it is full of names. You could read out some funny ones that are hard to pronounce, such as: Abelbethmaachah (1 Kings 15.20); Berodachbaladan (2 Kings 20.12); Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8.1).
- Explain that for Christians there is one name that is more special than any other. When this baby was born there were no baby name books like there are now but his mother Mary knew exactly what she should call her baby boy because God had told Joseph, her husband, what name to give him. Read Matthew 1.21.
So he was called Jesus, which means Saviour, or God will save us. The name of Jesus is special for Christians because they believe that he helps us and puts us right with God.
Time for reflection
Close your eyes.
Think for a moment about your own name.
Say it silently in your head.
Does it have a special meaning?
Are you named after someone in your family?
Do your family and friends have a shortened version of your name they like to call you by?
Silently name three special people in your head – perhaps from your family or your friends.
Thank you for your special name and that it tells us that you came to help us.
Thank you, too, for our names that were specially chosen for us.
‘A living song’ (Come and Praise, 72)