27 December 2018

[This podcast was first published on 7 December 2017]

Good morning, afternoon or evening depending on when you are listening to this podcast today. Maybe this is the third time you’ve attempted to listen to this due to interruptions or children – this happens to me regularly so you are in good company! My name is Bryony and I’m on the staff team here at STC Sheffield.


I’ve just introduced myself as Bryony, but truth be told, that’s not what everybody calls me. If you know me quite well you can probably get away with calling me Bry. If you are my younger brother you will call me Brys. If you’re American you’re probably confused by my name and will resort to calling me (as has happened on several occasions) ‘Brittney’. Or if you are my wonderful God-daughter Maisie I’m happy to answer to ‘Brian’!

Some people think a lot about the meaning behind a potential name they are considering for their child. I am named after a poisonous wild ivy – go figure!

In Old Testament times, names really mattered! We know that culturally you would find out a lot about a person’s ancestry, status and job from their name. The Bible also illustrates the importance of names. God gives Abram and Sarai part of his name and they become Abraham and Sarah. God reveals his name to Moses as he speaks to him from a burning bush.

Today we have arrived at verse 6 of Isaiah chapter 9. These verse will be very familiar to you if you’ve ever been to a traditional carol service at Christmas. Over the last two days we saw Isaiah telling the people they will have a reason to rejoice and their oppressors will be removed and now we reach the climax of the prophecy where we reveals how this will be. He says…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah reveals the names of this Messiah who is going to change everything. These names are a tangible and beautiful description. They reveal so much about Jesus’s character that I would recommend spending 5 minutes today meditating on them. Read them over and over and ask God to speak to you. They show us that he is wise and can be trusted to help us like a counsellor, that he is a strong and powerful saviour. They teach us that he is the never-ending, steadfast head of our family. They remind us that bringing peace is part of his very nature.

I read those names and they feel like a soft comfortable duvet; they feel safe, warm, a comfort in a storm. Tomorrow we will read about Jesus’ power and strength but for today why not read those four names and ask Jesus to highlight the aspect of his character that you need to know as true today. Maybe you are facing a difficult decision and need his wisdom as a counsellor and friend. Do you need to feel his power and protection? Do you need to wrestle with what it means to relate to Him as a father? Are you feeling unpeaceful and needing to come to him as the true source of all peace? What speaks to you today?

Names matter, and today we can trust that Jesus is and will be who he says he is.


Jesus, thank you that the Bible reveals so much to us about your character and your love for us. Thank you that each one of your names helps us to see another part of who you are. Help us never to be satisfied with what we know of you but help us press into knowing you more today. Amen.

READING: Isaiah 9:2-7

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.