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Christian Resources for Worship in Schools

What's in a Name?

St Paul’s conversion to Christianity was dramatic to say the least! From persecutor of Christians to one of the most influential apostles and followers of Christ. Here we look at his name change—from Saul to Paul—and how it expresses a far deeper change! The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul falls on January 25th.

Opening Activity:

Ask people for their names and ask them if they know their meanings. If you have one take a Baby Name book to tell them its meaning or go armed with a list of the most popular names. Why were they called that name? Who decided it? Was it a family name? Does anyone have any embarrassing middle names?! Babies are named with great care. Perhaps you were named after someone. Perhaps the name was significant to your parents. Perhaps they liked the meaning of the name. Pop Stars and Actors change their names if their own names don’t give the right impression. (For example, Elton John’s real name is Reginald Dwight.) Names are very important to us. If someone gets our name wrong we can feel a bit slighted or even embarrassed!

Today we celebrate the conversion of St Paul
Briefly tell them the story of St Paul who started out with the name of Saul. He was a persecutor of Christians. He wanted to stamp out the church. But his life was turned around. As he was travelling to a town called Damascus to arrest some followers of Jesus he was knocked off his horse and heard a voice: ’Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ It was Jesus. From that moment onwards, his life was turned around. No longer did he persecute Jesus, he followed him. No longer did he try to stop people from following Jesus, he went about preaching about Jesus. To symbolise that his life had changed his name was changed too.

Do you know what the name Paul means? Small or humble. Why the name change? It expressed his total change of life! From a persecutor of Christians to being a Christian himself, from a persecutor of Christ to being his follower, from an arrogant man who was convinced that he was doing right, to someone who submitted totally to Jesus.

God calls us by name, and he calls us to grow closer to him
When people become monks and nuns they will often change their name, or when they are ordained they may add another name—some people do this, too, with baptism and confirmation, to express a new stage in their life and a new relationship with God. Conversion is not just a once in a lifetime event but a way of life, we are always called to grow closer to God, to turn away from the things that spoil our friendship with God., to turn our back, again and again, on the things that are wrong, and to embrace, again and again, the good news and love of Jesus.

Prayer
God, you know us through and through.
You know our names and everything about us.
Help us to live up to your calling,
so that we may grow closer to you and know you better.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Also Check Out

Apostles

Useful Links

Acts 9:3-19
Baby Names
Basilica of Paul Outside the Walls

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