St Dunstan’s


Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England

St Dunstan's James Tomkins 2

James’ Message

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of September I had the pleasure of baptising Finn, Noah, Caleb and Reggie. I enjoy christenings enormously and, in the 150 or so christenings I have performed, there has been a huge variety of names. Some names seem timeless (such as James dare I say), others such as Janet and Jean are seldom given to babies nowadays, but others such as Arthur and Ernest seen to be making a comeback. Parents naturally often spend a long time choosing the names of their children and names often have a meaning behind them.

Names are very important and on November 4th, the names of those we have loved will be read out at the annual Time to Remember Service. A week later, the names of those who died in the First and Second World Wars will be read out at the War Memorial on what will be the 100th anniversary to the minute of the cessation of hostilities of 'The Great War'. Each of these names only touches the surface of the person who is remembered. It would take much longer to commemorate fully their achievements in life, the bravery they showed and what might have been, had they not died prematurely.

The memory of some people's names is perpetuated not only on a war memorial, but perhaps on some plaque on a seat or having a street or trophy named after them. We see their names as we walk round the village as a way of keeping their memory alive. The Church does this by giving particular dates to the names of Christian men and women in the past who have dedicated their lives to the service of God. Therefore, on October 4th, the Church remembers Francis of Assisi who started the Franciscan order of Monks; on October 23rd, Crispin and Crispinian who were willing to give up their lives for the Christian Faith and on November 30th, the apostle Andrew, who later became the patron Saint of Scotland.

Even if the church doesn't given a particular date to a saint, then on November 1st there is All Saints Day that recognises all of those heroes of faith who have inspired others down the centuries whose names may have been lost to us, but remain known to God. This is followed by All Souls Day on November 2nd, when we commemorate both the living and the departed, that are bound together in a communion of prayer. Alongside these commemorations, we might think about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey as a daily and permanent symbol of remembrance. This soldier could have been a casual labourer or the son of a Duke, but through his anonymity the tomb has come to represent all those people whose names have long since been forgotten by the vast majority of people, but whose lives are still treasured and held securely by God.

Jesus also had a variety names that touch on different aspects of his life...Lord, King, Master, Rabbi, Prince of Peace, the Light of the World, Messiah, Saviour, Friend, and many more. However we address Him, he knows us by our name so that, along with all those who gone before us, we are valued and loved by him.

With all good wishes,

James