Advent Reflections 2020 – Day 3

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Advent 2020 – Fear Not

Based upon: Isaiah 43.1-13

By Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham – Please Share Widely


Welcome to the Deanery, here at Durham Cathedral for this reflection on 1 December.

Isaiah 43 v.1 give us great comfort:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.

Putting a name to something or someone is always a significant occasion or carries with it a particular association.

Famously, when Samantha and David Cameron’s third child Florence was born prematurely and was rushed into hospital, they chose the middle name Endellion to recognise the care they had received in the Cornish town.

For many people, the naming of a child can be about keeping an association with a grandparent or loved one, or simply when the child arrives, it’s obvious that they are a Noah and not a Lucas.

Growing up, my own parents decided against middle names for me and my siblings, so I’m just plain Andrew.

And names can carry such a heavy freight, loaded with expectation or association, that it’s easy to understand why some decide to set aside their given name and to choose one for themselves – one which reflects the character they have become, not the role they inherited.

But whatever our name – whether we like it or not, whether we can rightly inhabit it or not – perhaps the most important thing is not the name itself, but the fact that others know our name, and so we believe that we are known, recognised, acknowledge, our existence is real.

We have probably all been scarred by the experience of someone blanking us. For me, it was a headteacher who, after I had been in the school for 7 years, still hadn’t a clue who I was.

However, in the privacy of this podcast, I confess at this point that my mind has been known to go blank when I see a smiling face in a crowd of 1,000 people who clearly knows my name, and I am left guessing. I stand in admiration of teachers who in the first few days of term manage to grasp each and every child’s name.

And this is a sign of the size and scale of the love of God. The immeasurable breadth and depth. That God in his infinite goodness knows each one of us by name, more than that, he calls us by name, and we dare to be his own.

And that love drives out all fear from our hearts, even in these challenging times.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.

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