We all have them. Many of us are ok with them. Some of us have complaints about them. But we live with them anyway because we didn’t choose them. Names. What we are called. How we are known in the world. Names chosen with care on the occasion of our birth or months before. Names connecting us in a family tree populated by people with names.
We can change them, of course, but we seldom do. We may alter them with shortened versions of them or simply leave them as they are. Perhaps we know their origins and feel better about them because of the association. And maybe we take pleasure in the power of showering them whenever we can. A friend gives names to her cars. And of course we call our pets by names! Plants have names, as do viruses and the medicines that work on them. Even objects in a way have names… an identifying label that distinguishes one thing from another. Because of names we know that a table is not a chair, which is neither a potato nor a pillow.
An object in the far corner of the universe now has a name. And the name has meaning. And the name has connections with earth. Arrokoth, which means, “sky.” Human beings chose this name for the cheese puff shaped object 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. Who do we think we are?
In Genesis, when God gave the human the opportunity to name the creatures of the earth, God also imparted a power, the power to control, dominate, master the creature. But objects in the sky? Perhaps it’s simply human nature to want to call everything something. Maybe it’s pure folly. Thousands of years ago humans understood that it is only a power beyond our own that controls the sky: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” That’s Isaiah 40:26. And by this power we too are not lost but known by name. For this, let us thank God, not our lucky stars!