(Today’s post by Marc Cannon)
My surname is Cannon; its origins predate 1,000 A.D. to what is now known as the county Donegal in the province of Ulster, Ireland. Most, even my own family, think my last name means “Cannon”…As in the large gun that goes boom. But the actual Gaelic translation of my name is O’Canein, derived from the term cano that means “Wolf Cub”. I’m extremely proud of my heritage, so much so that I have my family crest tattooed on my left shoulder and I’m venturing to Ireland on my honeymoon in April to not only spend time with my bride, but to connect with the ancient origins of my heritage.
In the world today or at least the U.S., the pride of ancestry seems to have waned quite dramatically. Surnames these days don’t seem to carry the same place in families or culturally. I believe that’s due to the erosion of the family unit in our society. I remember as a kid doing something that was less than honest and my dad asked me, “What’s your last name?” When I answered he said to me, “What does this do to your last name?” That has remained branded in my mind since then.
For millenniums peoples’ identities have been attached to their names. A name has displayed classes, cast, religion, location of where one is from, and the meaning or charge of their family. There were and still are unwritten cultural rules on how you name your children and they’re endless; all to give identity.
In Luke John the Baptist was supposed to take his name from someone in his family, most notably from his father, Zechariah. But the Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth and told her to name him John. This was out of the ordinary culturally and people were amazed Zechariah came to agreement with this as the Holy Spirit encompassed him and freed his tongue. To the amazement of those who knew them.
While I’m proud of my heritage, where I came from, and my family name, I know that’s not my true identity. God gave John the Baptist his identity and his task as a servant to help make a way for the Savior to come. Today, while we carry an earthly name, our identity is not in how we sign a check, but in our eternal family seated as coheirs to the thrown with Christ.
I’m admittedly the most aloof follower of all time, but always refreshing that through different passages He reminds me of what my true identity is.