Saturday, June 9, 2012


Celebrating your namesake

            I’m not sure why your Dad and Mom chose that name for you, but you have a noble role model and namesake in Saint Ephrem the Syrian Christian. You probably aren’t aware of it as a pre-schooler, but Syria is a country far away from your home in Maryland. Syria is much in the world’s headline news at present.
            Today, June 9, the Church celebrates his life all over the world. You will read and understand more about Saint Ephrem as you grow older, but I’ll tell you a few things in advance. Ephrem was born in Mesopotamia and like you came from a Christian family. He lived in the 300s A.D. That was just a couple of hundred years after Jesus lived on earth and then went to heaven.
            Ephrem was not really a very smart student in school, but he studied hard and did well. When he grew up he became a great writer even though he didn’t have a computer or even a pen and paper as we do. Even today can read some of his wonderful writings that have lasted for nearly two thousand years.
Ephrem knew a lot about the teachings of Jesus even before all the books of the Bible had been put together. Those who knew Jesus passed on his true teachings to others and then they passed it on to Ephrem and the people who lived in his day. He loved Jesus very much and taught people to believe in Him. He tried to be sure they believed exactly what Jesus taught. He was always standing up for the Christian faith against those who didn’t believe. He preached in public and became a deacon in the early church community.
            Ephrem wrote poetry and many beautiful hymns to the melodies of popular songs. He changed the words to words of sound doctrine. He was one of the first to teach singing in public worship to instruct people in the Christian faith. This was something new in his day, although throughout Scriptural history God’s people always sang praises to God. It made them feel part of each other and expressed their joy in Jesus. Some people gave Ephrem a nickname, “Harp of the Holy Spirit” because he was always singing about Jesus.
            As your great-grandma, I pray for you that you will continue to be a joyful, singing boy and then grow to be a man who always brings people to Jesus. God has gifted you with a big, happy smile, Ephrem, that everyone notices. I think you were born smiling! You are already a blessing to your family and others. We love you. I know you will live up to the witness and holy life of your namesake, Saint Ephrem.

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