St Mary Abchurch

When I called at London's St Mary Abchurch I was struck by the queerness of its name. What on earth is an abchurch? It likely refers to an Abbo (personal name), Abbot (leader of an abbey) or abbé (French for priest) who founded it or paid for the original’s construction. Although churches require names to distinguish them from other fellowships with which they might become confused, a name may give a little too much credit to its founders, and may rob God of the glory. Even naming it after a saint, like Mary, risks detracting from Christ, whose church it surely is. Giving a name is to suggest ownership. Our parents name us, because we are theirs. Later, we may change our names as we take possession of ourselves. But in Revelation chapter 2:17, there is reference to a new name, and in 3:12, a new name for Christ Himself. The closer we draw to Christ, the more diminished our carnal identity becomes, and the more prominent our new nature, character and status become.

"We refuse none who come and knock. Therefore, come with me, and I will teach you that which you need most to know. But first I will give you a new name. You shall no longer be called Graceless — but CHRISTIAN, for you are now a pilgrim on the road to the Celestial Land." Good-will, Pilgrim’s Progress.