The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The designation of this day as the Feast of the Holy Name was new to the 1979 revision of the Book of Common Prayer. Previous Anglican Prayer Books called this the Feast of the Circumcision. The revised Calendars of Common Worship (the Church of England) and the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland keep the older designation and adopt the new, calling the feast the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. The first of January is the eighth day after Christmas Day, and the Gospel according to Saint Luke records that on the eighth day after his birth, in accordance with the Law, the child was circumcised and given the name Jesus.

The Law of Moses required that every male child be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (Leviticus 12:3). It had long been the custom to make of it a festive occasion (which it remains to this day in Jewish families), when family and friends came together to witness the circumcision and naming of the child.

The liturgical commemoration of this day is of Gallican origin, and a sixth-century Council in Tours enacted that the day was to be kept as a fast day to counteract pagan festivities associated with the beginning of the new year. The Church of Rome observed the first of January as the octave day of Christmas, and the day was especially devoted to the Virgin Mary (as it is to this day).

Early preachers of the Gospel lay stress on the Name as showing that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood, though also the Son of God, who died a human death, and whom God raised from death, vindicating him as Savior and Lord (Acts 2:32; 4:12). The Name was given to Jesus, as the angel explained to Joseph, because he would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The name, Jesus (Yeshua), a common name among Jews in the Second Temple period, means “Savior” or “Deliverer”.

The Name of Jesus reminds us of the true freedom which is ours through Jesus, God’s Messiah and our Savior.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

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.

The Lesson
Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Psalm 8
Domine Dominus noster

O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Out of the mouths of infants and children *
your majesty is praised above the heavens.

You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *
to quell the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?

You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;

You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
you put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, *
even the wild beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!

The Epistle
Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

The Gospel
Luke 2:15-21

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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.

__________________________________________________

The scripture texts for the Lesson, the Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

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