On a cold January 2017 evening I came into the district parsonage and went straight to the already-burning fireplace. (It’s gas … I don’t want you thinking Mona is chopping wood and building fires for “her man” to come home to.) Mona called from the kitchen, “I learned the baby’s name today.”
I replied, “That’s nice.”
Silence for a few moments.
“Don’t you want to know?”
“No, I’m OK.” (I am thinking, what happened to her? When she was “with child” we agreed we didn’t even want to know if we were having a girl or boy until they were born.)
“It’s a Bible name. Don’t you want to know which one?”
“As long as it’s not Abel or Methuselah, I’m good.” (Why I picked those two I don’t know. I had not thought of either of them in years.)
Really … really … awkward silence. (I panicked thinking, “Oh, no, they’re gonna name that kid Methuselah. We can’t call him ‘Meth’ for short.”)
My thought is broken by a gentle inquiry, “What’s wrong with Abel?”
My reply: “His brother killed him!”
“Lots of people got killed in the Bible. People still name their children after them … Peter, Paul, Stephen.” It’s no fun being married to a Bible scholar. I gave up. Time to move on.
“ What’s his middle name?”
“Oh … that’s good.” (Boyd is his great-grandfather’s (my dad’s) middle name. Likewise, it was the first name of my “Grandpa K,” Abel’s great-great grandfather. One of these photos is of Daniel Boyd and Abel Boyd at their recent first meeting. The other is of Abel sitting in the same high chair as the earlier Boyds did 77 and 105 years ago. Early indicators are he is going to proudly hold up the family tradition of a hearty appetite.)
Back to Abel. The “Abel” name put me on a Bible pursuit. Obviously I knew the Genesis story. However, I was surprised to be reminded (a preacher can’t ever say he didn’t know something was in the Bible … we are just “reminded”) that Jesus actually called him “righteous Abel.” That caught my attention. Jesus sure didn’t go around calling many people “righteous.” Then, in Hebrews 11, Abel is the first name listed in the “Hall of Faith.”
After considerable reading about the “Bible Abel,” I think this sums him up: Abel believed in God, and gave God the best he had.
And that’s my sincere prayer for our Abel. (What a great name for a boy!!)
And that is my prayer for your children, too.