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What’s in a name? (20-10-22)

Bible Readings:

But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, Jacob,he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

(Isaiah 43. 1)

“Can a woman forget her own babyand not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. Jerusalem, I can never forget you!I have written your name on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49. 15 – 16)

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying… She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

(John 20. 11, 14 – 16)

A Thought Recently at the Wednesday Coffee Morning at the Royal Oak, I had a conversation with a group of ladies about names. We were discussing the most popular names in different generations and how they go in and out of fashion. Apparently, according to The Independent, Noah has just taken the top spot over Oliver (or was it Arthur?) as most popular boy’s name in 2022. Olivia has been the most popular girl’s name for the past six years, but has now been overtaken by Lily.

We reflected on the number of old-fashioned names making a fresh appearance. My Dad was called Arthur and probably never expected the name to be popular again, but there has been a new surge in the 0-10s along with Henry and George. I have also noted a number of Mables, Ediths and Florences.

There was speculation about what the new king would be called, even though Charles III seemed the most obvious and logical. I wonder if we will now see a surge of Charles for boys born in 2022 and 2023, as the coronation approaches.

There is something deeply significant and personal about a name. We respond when our name is called whether we are at home or out and about, often recognizing the voice that calls. It says something about security and belonging and being loved. What is even more comforting and reassuring is the fact that God knows our name. He rescues us and then summons us by name. He promises that he will never forget us. Our names are written on the palms of his hands. What a powerful image!

The importance of a name is highlighted in the encounter between Mary Magdalene and Jesus after the resurrection. It is when Jesus calls Mary by name that she recognizes him. This is a very personal moment of rescue from grief and distress, encapsulated in the speaking of her name and the relief, peace and joy that brings.

Think about your own name(s), chosen specially for you. What does it feel like to be called by name? Sit quietly for a few minutes and listen for God’s voice calling your name.

A Prayer Lord God, thank you that you have my name written on the palms of your hands. You will never forget me, leave me or forsake me.


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