I have been referred to by many names over the years. My birth name is Steven. My grandmother called me "Stevie." My students called me Mr. Welker. My wife calls me "Somebody" (as in "Somebody took my phone charger)!" My kids called me Dad. My kids' friends called me "Mr. Welker, Alison's dad, April's dad and one even called me "Father" because she knew I was some kind of religious person. Of course, I have been called Rev. Welker or Pastor Steve (I prefer Pastor Steve because it does not sound as old as "Rev. Welker."
The name that I have most cherished these last two years has been "Papou." Yes, it is Greek, and no my ancestry is not from Greece. My wife, Brenda (now known as Yia Yia) and I decided on these names before our grandkids were born. They don't have any family history to them. We just liked them!
Any grandparent can tell you what it is like to be called by a name associated with being a grandparent. It is as exciting as when your kids first said "Momma or Dada." As you have tried your best at being a parent, you want to "step it up a notch" even more so as a grandparent (or Papou).
This past Friday night my granddaughter would not go to sleep once she was put in her bed. While she is the "cutest" two year old ever, she can get under her parents' skin when she did not go to sleep the night before, fought taking a nap that day, and now was crying out from her bedroom that she wanted to be rocked. While my wife held our grandson who was asleep (two months old), mom and dad were not so quick to grant their daughter's request. Papou to the rescue!
My granddaughter and I rocked and snuggled like when I rocked her as a baby. While our special relationship did not win her over to falling asleep, she was willing to get back into her bed when I said it was time. I used a trick from "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" where he was sung to when he would not go to bed. Whomever was putting him to bed sang "5,4,3,2,1" in a quiet, soothing voice. I sang it to my granddaughter and she quietly snuggled under her blanket, called for her Daniel that sleeps in her bed with her, hugged him and closed her eyes with a smile.
Was it my name that coaxed her to go to sleep? Was it Daniel the Tiger? Probably not directly, but together they formed an important point about names. With each of our names comes a special relationship- with spouses, kids, grandkids, God, and with each other. In biblical terms that special relationship is called a covenant.
This coming Sunday we will continue our Lenten focus on "Covenant." We will look at the story of Abram and Sarai becoming Abraham and Sarah and why that change was important in identifying them as God's chosen, and in a covenantal relationship with God and with all nations.