From: Chris Allison
We have had a bit of a baby boom here at COTC, and I am sure the babies will continue to be born (thanks be to God) and I humbly offer the name Melchizedek, to the baby name pool. The nicknames would be great: "Heads up, Mel," "Dec is the best."
To throw in a bit more Biblical seriousness, you may have noticed that the scriptures take names very seriously. And I have noticed that our community does too. We consider the ways the names we gift to children carry messages, the way they sound to the ear and feel to the tongue, the pleasant associations that come to mind when we hear the name. They reflect the hopes we pray into our children.
Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious people in the scriptures. And I can't imagine another person in the scriptures for whom so much goodness is ascribed with so little backstory, struggle, or revelation. In some ways he is the natural person of faith, who needed neither blood, or upbringing, or even training it seems to assume the title of the "Priest of the Most High God." Before there was a line of Levites, there was Melchizedek, a man "so great" Hebrews tells us, that Abraham, after just meeting him, gave him a tenth of his spoils after the "slaughter of the kings." Of course, that slaughter was ominous. Yet there is a direct juxtaposition here. In the immediate aftermath of the slaughter, and plunder, and indeed, judgment, the Hebrews passage remembers that Melchizedek's service to Abraham was to "bless him." Melchizedek was the "king of righteousness"—in translation of his name—"and King of Salem, that is, king of peace." And Melchizedek blesses Abram in two ways, through "bread and wine," and by saying these words:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” Genesis 14
Of course your "Jesus" bells must be ringing, and this is quite correct. The beautiful thing about Hebrews associating Jesus with the "order of Melchizedek" is that Melchizedek inhabited God's priesthood without the law, he floated above it because he acted is such perfect alignment of God's reign he did not need to hear it, he acted in God's order without an order to follow. He did not need to be a Levite, he just needed to be reign in righteousness and peace, and he did both under the reign of "God Most High." After a bloody battle, a series of defeats, sins, and triumphs, Abraham, a man justified through faith, was met by this man, Melchizedek,"resembling the Son of God…a priest forever," and is given wine and bread, and a blessing. Abraham spontaneously gives a tenth of his spoils to Melchizedek in response.
I too am a person of faith. I come up to Jesus every week messy, blood on my hands, fighting for the good and succumbing to the bad. And Jesus meets me with bread and wine, and a blessing, and returns to his reign of peace and righteousness. Do I surrender my tenth on the spot, spontaneously, and in joy? I hope so. But I often feel that God beckons me to not only drop my tenth on the spot—however conceived—but also to follow him back to his kingdom in salem, that place of peace, ruled by that king of righteousness, to enter his priesthood, and return to my country to rework my tiny little kingdom into one of peace where righteousness rules, out of which I leave my gates to offer bread and wine and a blessing to another beleaguered combatant who is called by faith.
God assures us that we shall reign with him in the end. And this passage from Hebrews helps me to understand the relationship of reigning in his priestly order with Jesus and the struggle and walk of faith—we seem precisely in that space between Melchizedek and Abraham. We will reign, but not yet. We walk in faith, but not so surely as Melchizedek; we are in need of more instruction. We are dirty, tired, and ragged, but keep walking through faith, and are offered blessing, bread and wine, but also the invitation to inhabit part of Melchizedek's kingdom of righteousness and peace. We are blessed, and are called to do some blessing. We spontaneously give, and spontaneously receive. The list goes on.
The upshot of all of this is: Melchizedek is a great name we could all live into.
I spend most of my days writing a dissertation on early American history. I live in Watertown with my beautiful family. I like to bike, visit Boston’s great museums, and geek out with others. I feel blessed to have been a part of Church of the Cross for the last five years.