January 1, 2023
January 1, 2023: The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
“New Years Day”
The Rev. R. Allan McCaslin
Readings: Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:15-21
From the Gospel according to Luke, “… and he was called Jesus…” I speak to you in the
Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Good morning and a Happy New Year and happy 8 th Day of Christmas to you all!
You know, in preparing this sermon – a sermon that was focused on the significance of
the Name of Jesus – Yeshua – a new Joshua who brings all who believe out from the exile of
sin and brings us into a new promised land, the promised kingdom of God - I could not help
but see how much more deeply today’s observance of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus –
New Year’s Day – this new Anno Domini – this new Year of our Lord is enhanced by this
morning’s celebration of Holy Baptism.
See, it is in and through Holy Baptism that we are marked as Christ’s own forever – just
like Adriano 1 will be marked in a few moments. And having been marked as Christ’s own we
carry that Holy Name of Jesus wherever we go regardless of what day or year it is. And I
find the timing of that reminder and the whole shift in where I thought the Holy Spirit was
heading in this sermon providential because in the Rite of Holy Baptism everyone present
affirms or reaffirms to not only embrace but strive to fulfill – to live their lives in ways that
fulfill – their baptismal covenant promises. Promises steeped in scripture.
Our Old Testament reading from Numbers says that those who carry God’s name, those
who have God’s name upon them, are blessed by God. Similar Old Testament texts affirm
that God’s blessing is given in order that we, God’s people, may, in turn, be a blessing and
light to the other nations of the world. We, who through baptism carry the name of Jesus
Christ, God Incarnate, on our hearts, St. Paul says in today’s reading from Galatians, are
heirs and children of God. Heirs and children blessed to what? Blessed to carry God’s name
and be a blessing to all we meet.
Luke tells us that naming our Lord “Jesus” on the 8 th day after his birthday was in
keeping with the Hebrew tradition of naming a male child on the 8 th day of his life. Thus we
have the Feast of the Holy Name. Yet today is also the 8 th of those 12 Days of Christmas we
sing about in that old carol – you know – the day with the “8 maids a-milking” as the song
goes. The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a way to teach young children the
catechism of the Christian Faith during a time when such instruction was prohibited. And
each day symbolized something important. Now I won’t go through all of those days – you
can read the December edition of the Parish Newsletter for the details of what is
represented by each day. But the 8 th day is significant this morning because the 8 maids
symbolize the eight Beatitudes described in Matthew 5:3-10. Remember those? “Blessed are
the merciful, for they will receive mercy; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see
God; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” and so on. Now
think about that for a moment.
See today’s particular observance of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, this 8 th day of
Christmas, is enhanced all the more deeply because in the Rite of Baptism we are not just
reminded but confronted with the fact, that all who carry that Holy Name of Jesus have
already committed themselves to be a blessing in our communities and the world. In fact,
this Feast Day - this New Years’ Day – is a subtle reminder that every year in the life of the
Christian is a year of Lord Jesus, a new year filled with opportunities to not only proclaim his
name, but be Christ’s redeeming, forgiving, welcoming and healing presence in this world.
The question for Christians everywhere on this New Years’ Day is whether our lives – how
we think, what we say, what we value, what we buy, and what we do – declare and
demonstrate that grace, mercy, forgiveness, selfless love, and redemption of God in Christ?
Do our very lives honor that Holy Name? Would someone watching us think, as Luke said,
that our name is Jesus?
To that end, might I step out on a limb this morning and suggest that while it is
customary to make New Year’s Resolutions on January 1 st , perhaps, on this day – this
particular Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus that we received at Baptism, that Holy Name we
carry – this 8 th day of Christmas with its reminder of the Beatitudes, we might simply
commit ourselves to embrace and live our Lord’s entire Sermon on the Mount in this new
year? What a difference that name of Jesus would make in us, let alone every community.
This morning’s Collect prayed God to plant in every heart the love of Jesus who is the
savior of the world. Friends, may God plant that love so deeply in our hearts that it changes
how we live and who we are especially as we begin this New Year of our Lord Jesus Christ in
whose name we have become children of God, bearers of God’s light, and messengers of
God’s redemption, grace, and mercy.
And so I end this sermon as I began, a happy New Year and happy 8 th day of Christmas
to you all not just today, but always. Amen.
1 Adriano Esudas Suraj Persad was baptized at this worship service on January 1, 2023