Devon Churches Rural Forum

The Importance of Naming and Knowing

No.85. Dear Friends in FCN Devon Team: Reflections & Prayers fortnightly Fri.Feb.11th 2022 from John 


When it comes to naming farm animals, the chosen name often reflects character and colour-markings; it may also reveal ownership, as with Jack’s small boat ‘Jax’. When we had bantams, our favourite cockerel was called Buffer – reflecting not only his colour but also his proprietorial demeanour! His wife was perhaps somewhat unimaginatively called Henrietta – until of course Henry ate her! Much care is taken in choosing the names of working dogs to make then easily biddable. Gyp was my favourite childhood cattle dog. Cows in smaller herds always had names rather than the inevitable numbers which now so often prevail. Knowing about leverets and hares - and the difference between them and rabbits, recognising nettles and red admirals, tadpoles & toads, stoats & weasels, woodlice …was basic rural education. Is this mere romantic nostalgia or is there something about recognising & naming the plants & animals around us – both wild & domesticated – that we should conserve, and pass on to future generations? I think so. I was perturbed to learn recently about some words dropped from recent editions of the Oxford Junior English Dictionary in order to make room for new ones added as ‘now reflecting the world of today’s children’ – what a tragedy that such a justification is borne out by stark facts! What a good thing when we receive children onto farms to learn:- 


DROPPED: acorn; beech; buttercup; conker; dandelion; … ADDED: blog; celebrity; chatroom; voicemail… 


I recently watched a shepherd feeding his ewes on a clear, frosty morning with a bale of sweet meadow hay aboard his quadbike; the flock followed enthusiastically to their feeding ground where the shepherd carefully observed their behaviour to check that all was well with each one. I watched a blue tit this morning having its breakfast while I took mine. The first primroses are out on the nearby bank. A curlew called plaintively along the estuary yesterday. The sound of the wind in the treetops was both soothing yet could become threatening. But all this is reality in our rural surroundings. All senses are engaged and research – especially during the coronavirus pandemic – is showing what country-folks have long known: that spending time outside amid God’s creation does you good! Knowing and naming what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting in the real world around is the basis of forming a healthy relationship with it. Living predominantly in a ‘virtual world’ of video games and ‘celebrocracy’ seems to pave the way to declining mental health and profound loss of a sense of well-being. So also does casting ourselves as mere manipulators of other creatures rather than custodians of their well-being for the benefit of all of us… 


God asked Adam to name in order to manage and care for the creatures (Gen.2:19-20) ‘… and Adam gave names to all cattle, & to the fowl of the air & to every beast of the field.’ We too surely need to name in order to care properly for God’s creatures today in our depleted post-industrial world – and to seek the wisdom of their Creator in doing so? When God wished to address the people through Moses about His plans for them, it was Moses who asked God ‘Whom shall I say sent me? What is His Name?’ God replied ‘You shall say I AM THAT I AM sent me to you’ (Exodus 3:13-15). The LORD God has many Names in the Bible which amplify His character – such as Jehovah–Jireh (= The LORD Who reveals Himself as Our Provider) - but supremely He is the eternally existent One, I AM. The Bible tells us He knows us all by name and its message of love through Christ to each one of us is that God wishes us to know Him by Name, to revere Christ’s Name as the Name above every Name, as Paul prayed in Eph.1:17-21. Let’s name names! 

Psalm 8:1,9 twice exclaims: ‘O LORD, Our Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth!’ 


Let’s thank God for naming and relationship; for developing crops & livestock; for vaccinations & that we are immunisable; for each other; for those we help via FCN; FCN nationally led by Jude McCann; farms/rural communities; our Founder Christopher Jones; our Patron HRH The Prince of Wales; UK Gov’t/democracy, & ELMS; NHS & Carers; Schools; Pharmacists; Water & Food suppliers; Food Chain; transport logistics; police/crime prevention; Vets; rural education and custodianship of it… 


Let’s pray for winter provision & livestock husbandry; for Young Farmers; for students; for the mentally-stressed, confused, lonely; for businesses, organisations, new roles & ventures; caution to ‘stay alert!’ & act responsibly; for social discipline to respect, protect, enjoy; for all who mourn; for refugees & migrants


Let’s pray re: Afghanistan; Australia, Canada/USA, Europe, Belarus, Brazil; DRCongo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Israel, Palestine; Yemen; Madagascar, Myanmar; Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Kenya, RSA, Sudan, S.Sudan, Tonga, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia. 


Let’s praise & offer ourselves through Psa.86 esp.vv.9-11 with prayers for integrity; keep looking up! John 

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