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What’s in a name?
Over thirty years ago, the giant food corporation Mars changed my life forever (I’m exaggerating a little here…). Mars decided to re-brand one of the UK’s favourite chocolate bars, in order to bring it into line with the rest of the world, and so, almost overnight, Marathon became Snickers. Eight years later, they pulled the same trick and my childhood favourites Opal Fruits became Starburst. I still hanker for the originals.
So, what’s in a name?
Names have always been much more than a mere title or label – they carry something special about the product or the person, something that helps us find a place for this unique item, in our minds and sometimes in our hearts as well. If a proper name doesn’t seem to fit, then we are quickly ready to produce a nickname as an alternative.
When the Angel visited Joseph the Carpenter in a dream and told him to marry the young Mary of Nazareth and look after her unexpected baby, he also said “You will name him Jesus.” Mary and Joseph were as good as the Angel’s word and their new baby boy was given an optimistic, hopeful name that pointed everyone to God’s eternal promise – ‘Jesus’ means ‘the Lord saves’, or perhaps ‘the Lord God helps’. The Angel helpfully added “for he will save his people from their sins.” *
Our modern society encourages us to believe that we can be whatever we want to be and reach all our dreams ….. as long as we buy the right face cream/ sports car/ laundry powder/ latest wonder product… It certainly isn’t fashionable to believe that we need saving. Yet, all around us the evidence points to a deep flaw in the human heart that distorts and mis-shapes all our relationships – with ourselves, each other, the planet and indeed God. We cannot do it ourselves – we need God to act and save us.
This is the message at the heart of Christmas. We can let go of all our efforts to ‘succeed’ or ‘find happiness’ and we can stop trying to fill the hole in the centre of our lives. God himself, in the person of Jesus, is here to save us. The second great name given to Jesus in the Bible is ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God is with us’. *
Let’s name it: we are not alone – God is here and he has come to save us. No re-branding is necessary.
Yours in friendship,
The Revd Adrian Jones, Vicar of Knighton
* Matthew 1.18-25
Our vision for Knighton, and for all of us, is Faith for Life – based on the words of Jesus: “I have come that they may have life; life in all its fullness” (John 10.10). During the present Coronavirus pandemic this can feel like a real challenge, as our lives will be so restricted for many weeks and the future is uncertain. It is tempting to think that as all our services are now suspended we will be 'less' as a church and 'less' as Christians - but I would like to urge you in God's grace to be more.
We need the same love and care that runs through our normal church life together to be at work now in more prayer for each other and in meeting more practical needs. We need the example and Spirit of Jesus to inspire us now to love our neighbours and to encourage each other even more.
So let’s give ourselves to prayer, as we have health and strength, for each other and our communities. Let's talk to those we sense might need help and offer what we can. And let’s ask that God will continue to help us follow the way of Jesus and build the Kingdom even in these unique times.
If you need some practical help or someone to talk to - or if you can offer this to others- please do phone or email us at the Church Office: 0116 270 2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org
in friendship and Christ's service
Adrian Jones, Vicar
(Thanks to Mark Powley, St Hild College, for ideas used here)
Safeguarding : If you have an immediate concern about the welfare of a child, young person or vulnerable adult, please do not delay in contacting our Parish Safeguarding Co-ordinator:
The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer is Rachael Spiers : 0116 261 6341 email@example.com
The new number for out of hours (weekends and evenings) safeguarding cover is now 0303 0031111, and is hosted by Thirtyone:eight. Callers should state that they are from the Diocese of Leicester.
An Advent Meditation
© 2014 St Mary Magdalen, Knighton, Leicestershire