There’s an old joke that goes like this: you can tell that you’re in a country church when you call for “Bubba” to take up the offering, and a half-dozen guys stand up and come forward.
One country church that I served as pastor not only had “Bubba,” but had people with all kinds of unusual nicknames. I think it was a family tradition. This was a church dominated by one tightly-knit family. In fact, I figured up once that out of the total membership of 86, we had 55 members who belonged to one extended family. You could say that this church was “home owned and operated.”
There was a woman in the church who had been called “Cooter” since she was a child. She married a Mr. Brown, so she became “Cooter Brown.” Cooter would laugh about her nickname when she met people and explain that yes, she had heard of the expression, “drunk as Cooter Brown,” but no, she didn’t drink. Cooter had a sister that everybody called “Sister.” Even people who weren’t related to her, still called her “Sister.” They had an Aunt Monkey. That was a really hard one for me. When she told me, “Just call me ‘Monkey,’” I said, “Ma’am, I can call a woman ‘Cooter,’ but I don’t think I can bring myself to call a woman ‘Monkey.’”
She insisted I call her “Monkey” anyway.
Then there were the children. One girl was known as “Boo-Boo.” I think her family must have been watching Yogi the Bear cartoons at the time they had this child. She had a big brother they called “Possum-Eye.” I asked “Paw,” a family patriarch, where he got that name, and “Paw” said, “I gave it to ‘em, ‘cause his hair is so long that when you see his eyes stickin’ outta his hair, he looks like he’s got a possum eye.”
They had a nickname for me, too. Being a young, inexperienced pastor, I was the “little preacher.” I hated that nickname. I wanted to be a “big preacher,” not a “little preacher.” I should have been glad. That was about 30 years ago and 20 pounds ago. Nobody calls me “little preacher” anymore.
But that’s OK, because the Bible says I will get a new name one day. That’s right! In Revelation 2:17, Jesus speaks to the faithful believer who overcomes, and promises, “I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it.” Apparently this new name is representative of the new life we have as Christians, for the Bible also says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, HCSB). When we trust in Jesus, He gives us a new life, a new purpose, a new hope and a new name.
Maybe I’ll get to be “little preacher” again.
(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read my blog at www.holyhumor.blogspot.com.)