Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's in a Name

   Frances Phillips was hired in May as Epworth's Summer Children's Worker to help with VBS and Sunday School, and to launch a new weekly summer ministry with children she is calling Wacky Wednesdays. Last Wednesday was the first to be officially Wacky, and 30 children came to run and splash in the water around the yard of our church. A grand time was had by everyone. 
   As our position is part-time, Frances is also working at a local restaurant this summer while she is home from  'that other college' in Athens. Recently she was telling me about serving someone during the lunch hour who happened to share her same name. It seems Frances does not have the chance to engage lots of people who share her name, and this woman made an impression on her. This is not something the Johns, Bills, Andrews, or even we Scotts of this world have considered much.
   I was intrigued. So I looked into the name Frances to see how many there are out there.* I did not know that exactly 100 years ago Frances was the 9th most popular name given to infant girls and that it held a place for well over a decade. It has dropped off considerably since then, 894th in 2011. In 1993 it was the 294th most popular name with exactly 640 girls given the name Frances the year Earl and Melonie welcomed theirs into the world. 
   Of course, Frances Griffin has been a Frances for even longer. She told me I could tell everyone she celebrated her 86th birthday last week. She was surprised when I said that there were 13,352 little Frances born the with her in 1926. I happen to think we have two of the best Frances out of all of them. 
   For all of this trivial information, what matters most is that every Frances ever born is known by God. In Isaiah 43 the LORD declares, "Don't fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine." He goes on to say that despite calamity that would sink us, trouble that would burn us, or enemies that would capture us, we should not fear because the LORD will never abandon us. Whether you are Frances, Frank, Bill or Barbara, you are made and kept by the most powerful force in the Universe - the One True God.
   If that seems Wacky or hard to believe, then you are probably closer than ever to getting it. The love of God is mystery and it is magnificent. It is for you and for me and its portion does not grow smaller...regardless of how many like you there are!

* You can get all of this information from a great website curating by the Social Security Administration (

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