On 1 January we celebrate Our Lord being given his name, Jesus, which means Saviour.
Names mark the fact that everyone is different, each with their own gifts and character. Often a surname is the name of a place, or a profession, or a nickname like mine. Foottit may have indicated someone who always walked instead of rode! Or it might have meant someone with distinctive feet. Sometimes a Christian name has become a surname, e.g., Andrew, Matthew, Edward (sometimes adding an ‘s’). Jesus calls his twelve disciples by name. Names are used to introduce a person, or to gain their attention, and to pray for them. To notice someone and affirm them by name can be a great encouragement to them.
A good question at the threshold of a New Year is: what are my special gifts and capabilities? This can lead on to a further question: what does God want me to do with my gifts? In the light of that, what should I discard and what should I take up in order to fulfil more truly what God means me to be? A good way of carrying out a New Year audit like this is to picture yourself or your organisation as a tree with its trunk (i.e. its purpose), roots (i.e. its history) and its branches (representing work and leisure, relationships and responsibilities, resources and finance). What needs pruning in order to bear fruit? Maybe we need a change of direction. It is good to end up this exercise with three or four SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) objectives. We may also find we need to do some pruning, i.e. getting rid of clutter. There are professional de-clutterers (if all else fails!)