Having two sons with great Hebrew names has been a source of much preaching material over the years, although about twenty years ago I gave up ever using any of it when they were in the congregation.
Older's name means 'favourite son' and younger's 'gift of God.' Asked to explain (to them) I always say that God gave us a gift of another favourite son. A second favourite, not a second-favourite.
A few years ago Mrs T received a birthday card saying:
From your favourite son:
This is what passes for humour in our family. Intellectually rigorous and well crafted. (Those would have been good names for sons too.)
Older conceded that his younger brother may possibly have been our favourite in the year of his birth and the year that he graduated but otherwise he was supreme.
If our sons want to outdo each other in trying to be our favourites it seems that we are the only winners so why not play along? It can only improve the care home quality.
Anyway it is always a moment for a ponder when a son passes a birthday ending in a zero so I note that my baby was thirty at the weekend and move on.
I can be back at his birth in the blink of a minds-eye, yet the Sundays after Easter seem to have gone on for ever. Ten minutes on a piece of gym apparatus seems much longer than an ordinary ten.
Yesterday's readings, at the end of the Easter season were a lovely combination of reminders from Isaiah, John's Gospel, John's letters and Luke's Acts that the God of the Bible has no favourites, whatever you may think of his relationship to the people he brought out of Egypt under Moses. Come all who are thirsty. There is no alien exclusion. Roman centurions receive the Holy Spirit, amazingly. Everyone who believes.
I was preaching yesterday in Nailsea and Tickenham. It was probably under water when much of the Bible was written down. Ends of the earth? It wasn't even earth. And yet the gospel reached us. No favouritism. None at all.
It didn't catch on quickly enough and Paul had to write correctives. Galatians 3:28 isn't a well-done-carry-on but a sort-it-out-now. We find the same in Ephesians.
Now. Do our churches have favourites? We may say not, but look at the complexion, wealth, age profile and gender and ask again.
It is my birthday soon. Favourite son competition is back on.