Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Holy Name

New Year's Day is the Feast Day of the Holy Name in Christian least in those circles where the seasons are kept with some care...and so today we mark the day that Jesus was circumcised as was the custom then as now for Jewish boys. And he was given the name the angel had given him at the visitation to Mary.
Here are a few thoughts about Names.

Illustration #1
“What’s in a name?” Juliet said, musing on the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Even if Romeo were of that “other” family, so what; she continues; “What’s in a name; that which we call a rose? By any other name would smell as sweet”. Perhaps then there is hope for their love. “Romeo, Romeo, doff thy name and for thy name which is no part of thee, take all myself!” Our hope for the young lovers always beats high no matter how many times we read the story; but in the end the cascading violent anger of the families brings the children both to their tragic ends. Only then can the elders see the folly of their ways. Thus the Holy Name of Jesus is born to us; the name that says “Savior” all over it; can the cascading, violent anger of our social order learn from Him? Has it ever? Will it ever?

Illustration #2
A wonderful moment exults inside Handel’s Messiah when the chorus sings; “And his Name shall be called; Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace!” How wonderful. The name of Jesus is a name that is above all other names. And it brings with it wonders, wisdom, power, eternity and above all else it brings Peace. It is inside that moment when the chorus rejoices; “For unto us a child is born, and then the Government shall be upon his shoulder. How fanciful is the scripture hope…or is the fanciful name of Jesus the only name under heaven that will really work?

Illustration #3
It is Christmas…and a cold icy grip has seized much of the nation. Like a frozen mantle, snow has fallen; snow on snow. A tempestuous wind swirls about piling up the snows into prodigious drifts. And the news we hear of the economy, foreign wars, and domestic threats of terror, seize us like a hard, hard winter. Shall we huddle in fear in such a climate or should we rather gather to sing the songs of a savior’s birth? Can Jesus save us from this mess? Can we save ourselves from this mess with the help of Jesus? We’ve been singing Christmas music for a long, long time and not as a backdrop to shopping frenzies. No it is best sung, gathered together in our holy places, huddled together by candlelight, singing in our sometimes untrained voices of the holy humble child in a manger. When we learn to love one another so; then the Holy Name of Jesus love can save us all! Sing on, sing on all through our Silent Night!

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