In more liturgical corners of the Christian world, January 1 isn’t just New Year’s day, it’s also called The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. If we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25 then January 1 is the eighth day… and the eighth day is significant.
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
On day 8 (you Bible nerds will know) newborn Jewish boys were circumcised and formally named. So for centuries the New year has been celebrated by Christians as the day that Jesus got his name. The Name. It was also the day that he took the mark of circumcision… a long-standing tradition that had been pointing to him all along.
So, I certainly hope that this Christmas season you’ve taken time to reflect on this wild and wonderful idea that God humbled himself to be like one of us so that he could save us. I hope that at least one of those hundreds of manger scenes have grabbed your attention and made you stop and breath in the wonder of “Emmanuel, God With Us.”
And maybe this New Year’s day, i.e.:
- the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
- the “8th day”
- the day that Jesus was named and marked
…maybe you could let the idea of Jesus coming to earth get personal. Really personal. You could ask yourself:
What does the story of Jesus mean to me? Is it an incredible story and a remarkable cultural phenomenon, or has it defined me? Has it given me my name? Has it marked me as something new?
Maybe you’ve heard and even believed the story but you haven’t let it give you a new name or mark you as part of something far bigger than yourself. If so, I hope today will be more than just the start of a new year, but the start of a new everything (he does that).