This week I found myself thinking about nicknames. I’ve had many nicknames over the years, but the nickname that has stuck with me longest with my oldest friends and family is simply “Rae”. When I started playing t-ball, the other little kids had trouble pronouncing my name, so my dad told the coach they could call me rae-rae, and they did – and they still do. Thanks dad!

Nicknames often explain something about your characteristics, too. I’ve been called Pocahontas because of my hair, short-stuff because of my height. I have a friend from elementary school that still calls me Rugrat. Another friend of mine, to my great irritation, will only ever refer to me as Martha Stewart, Jr. Probably more accurate would be my nieces’ nickname for me. Because of my love of baking, they have called me “cupcake” since they had the ability to speak. My youngest niece can’t quite get it out yet so she’s been calling me “cup cups”, but has recently changed it to simply “cake”.

My most recent nickname, thanks to my recent ordination, is none other than the title of Rev Rae. You’ll find this particularly funny if you are familiar with the ordained rapper, Rev Run, of 80’s hip hop group, Run DMC. There are also pet names for nicknames, but I don’t want to embarrass Lyle or myself, so I’ll just move on.

Nicknames are really great. They’re special because if you think about it, you only really use them or receive them when you are really comfortable or familiar with someone. You use them and receive them with your friends. Being called by a nickname normally indicates that you are known by someone on a deeper, less superficial level, and really being known, in my opinion, is one of the deepest longings of human nature.

Today I would like to welcome you to worship. May it be a place of nicknames to you – a place of knowing and being known; a place of honesty and a place of humor. And may our nickname for Grace Baptist Church, Grace, be reflected in all we say and do as its ambassadors. So let us now pass the peace of Christ with one another, and may we learn a few of each others’ nicknames while we are at it.

Rev. Aurelia Davila Pratt is the Pastor of Spiritual Formation and one of the Teaching Pastors at Grace Baptist Church.