Earlier today, I published a post announcing a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.
This post will both introduce us to the feast day celebrated on January 1, as well as some basics of the Christian calendar framework. Like the secular calendar, the Christian calendar has seasons, holidays, and assigned meanings to certain times of year and certain days. The same way that Americans have a common understanding of the feelings and thoughts surrounding school getting out, Thanksgiving approaching or, most recently, New Year’s Eve, the Christian calendar beckons us toward a common experience in relation to our beliefs about Christ, His life and how He intertwines with our lives today.
If you come across terminology you are unfamiliar with, know that you are not alone, and check out this page.
The Holy Name of Jesus
(Also known as The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ or The Feast of the Circumcision)
What day does it fall on? January 1 (8 days since Jesus’ birth. Yes, I know Jesus wasn’t actually born on 12/25. It’s okay. Humans need days to grab on to, like totems, like anchors. These will do.)
What season are we in? Christmas (December 25, 2015-January 5, 2016)
What’s this day all about? Holy Name of Jesus celebrates the day when Mary and Joseph brought the 8 day old Christ child to the temple. At the temple, He was circumcised according to Jewish custom, and given his name, Jesus.
What’s the history of this celebration? In 567, The Council of Tours/Gallican Church established the holy day, to be observed by fasting, as a response to the pagan celebrations of the new year. (citation)
So, how could we observe it?
- Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app
- Read the Lectionary texts
- Pray “the Collect” for Holy Name
- Listen to and sing songs that exalt the name of Jesus
- Produce art or a creative project inspired by the name of Jesus
- For parents, consider ways we can present our children to the Lord, just as Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple
- Light a special candle reserved for Holy Days and Sundays
What’s it to me? I am fascinated by the origin of the observance of Holy Name. I am convicted, inspired and strengthened by the idea of joining with the saints of The Council of Tours who were dedicated to a different way, to keeping themselves unstained by the world and its pagan practices. While the New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting practices of our modern age are in no way sinful, and can in fact often be agents for good, I am thinking about them differently this year, considering how I can begin my year in the name of Jesus rather than in the name of human ambition. What a perfect way to begin our “reframe,” to start a Christian rhythm that will pulse throughout our year.
So, boil it down for me, would you? Liturgy, a Greek word, is often translated, “the work of the people.” What if our work today was to consider how the year laid before us can be brought into submission under the name of Jesus? I’m so grateful for the call of Holy Name, the call to pause and reflect on the sacredness of the name of Jesus, the faithfulness of His earthly parents, the preciousness of the Word made flesh, an infant among us.
I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?
- What has your experience been with the Christian calendar, liturgy, holy days, etc.?
- What are your ideas for observing Holy Name of Jesus?
- Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar pique your curiosity?
We’re in this together, friends, this quest to see Him, to know Him more. I’m so very glad for that fact.
In closing, I am praying the Collect for Holy Name over us. Join me?
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.