Saturday, December 31, 2016

Holy Name Jan 1 2017

The Holy Name Jan 1 2017 Audio

Today is the feast of The Holy Name. Jesus, name above all names, beautiful Savior, glorious Lord. Emmanuel, God is with us, blessed Redeemer, Living Word. The Angel told Joseph that the child should be called Jesus, which means Emmanuel, God is with us.

"What's in a name?" asked Juliet.  Everything, my dear, everything. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In the beginning was the word, lest we forget.  And the word was made God, and God was the word. What's in a name? Who is this little child, born in a barn, to upset the accepted order of things. Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Jesus, name above all names. Emmanuel, God with us.

The story we have before us today from Luke is the Hebrew naming ritual, and a marking ritual. It is the thing that makes a Hebrew boy, a Hebrew boy. Christians have a similar ritual, we call it Baptism. The first thing we do at Holy Baptism is to name the child. And then our children are marked as Christ's own forever. Naming is very important. Many cultures understand a name as that which a child will become. It must be chosen carefully, it may even be prophetic. Some of us are named for our ancestors, we carry the name of those saints who went before us, we may honor that person by the way we carry that name. At a recent Monson family reunion I learned about the Norwegian naming conventions. The first born male was named for the paternal grandfather, the second born male was named for the maternal grandfather, as the first born female is named for the paternal grandmother, and the second born female is named for the maternal grandmother. In many families, the boys are all Ole's and the girls all Lena's because of the names of the grandparents. We may laugh at that, but to be named for one who went before you is an honor, and there is a responsibility to carry that name with dignity.

Each of us carries the name of Jesus by virtue of our baptism, maybe even by virtue of our shared humanity, Emmanuel, God with us. That's what is accomplished in the incarnation. This very God is re-presented in our world, born just like we are, with hands and a heart and eyes, with desires and expectations and fears, and given a name. Jesus. A name which both identifies him, that is, sets him apart from us, and meanwhile joins him to us. God no longer is located just in the Ark of the Covenant, or in the Temple, but God is located in all of creation, in you and in me. Each of us carries the holy name of Jesus, Prince of peace, with us, wherever we go, wherever we are.

So not only do we live our lives confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, at the very same time we live our lives filled with the divinity that is God with us, God in our midst. The name of Jesus makes the ordinary holy. The name of Jesus makes ordinary bread and wine the holy body and blood of God. The name of Jesus makes ordinary water holy and blesses our very life's in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The name of Jesus makes ordinary people into sons and daughters of the Creator God.

This Good News is transformational. It changes us, and all that we are and all that we do. The God who is love, the God who is creator of all that is seen and unseen, the God who this human story is all about, is also the God who lived, and loved, and suffered and died, so that we, humans, may be joined together to effect God's love, God's peace, God's compassion, God's mercy in this life. Love wins, love incarnate, wins.

You and I are covered, enveloped, by God's love, we are indeed imbued with God's holy name, Jesus. And that name calls us to be people of mercy and compassion, it calls us to be God's peace right here and right now. Not only are we assured of God's love, assured of being fearfully and wonderfully made, we have all we need to show forth God's love, Jesus' holy name, mercy and compassion, peace, in all that we are and all that we do. We are God's new creations, we are brought back into wholeness with God.

On this first day of the year, how will you bear God's holy name? In this new year, a year into which we enter with some trepidation, how will love be born in you? How will love be born by you? How will incarnation transform you?

We were made for times such as these, we are named as God's beloved for the work that God calls us to. This year, at this time, your response is critical. Today, this is a year of possibility. It is new, and so are you. Yesterday, some of us Trinitarians were making and serving lunch at St. John's Lutheran church. Rick was wearing his Trinity tee shirt, Love God, Love People, Show it. A fellow came up to him and told him that there was the whole Gospel on the back of his shirt. God calls us to wear the Good News, God calls us to wear Jesus' Holy Name, and the ordinary is made holy. And God calls us to see Jesus' Holy Name in one another. Our ordinary neighbor, the one who voted for the other guy; the ordinary immigrant, looking for a better life; the ordinary kid down the street, just trying to negotiate her way in a world that would label her odd; the ordinary person sitting next to us in the pew. In Jesus name, the ordinary is made holy. We were made for times such as these. Find Jesus in the ordinary, the holy will emerge. Amen.

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