Sermon For January 1, Feast of the Holy Name

The First Day of the New Year is also the Feast of the Name of Jesus.  This would have been in fulfillment of the circumcision to take place the correct number of days after Jesus’ birth.  When Jesus  was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Collect for the Feast of the Holy Name can be used as a collect for Mission, said together every Sunday after the Collect for the Day, the main petition being, “…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” (BCP, page 213).

The Name of Jesus must continue to be lifted up before the World, so that they might see, and hear, and come to receive the saving power of Jesus Christ in their lives.  And there is power in the Name.

The veneration of the Holy Name was encouraged in the 1100’s by the example of Bernard of Clairvaux, who apostrophized it in many sermons,  just prior to . But the greatest promoters of this devotion were Bernardino of Siena and his follower John Capistrano in the 1300’s. “They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, wherewith they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind.” The practice of showing the monogram of Jesus over gates and above doors largely begins with their exhortations, which  The tablet used by St. Bernardino is venerated at the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli at Rome.  This monogram of the name of Jesus consisted of the first three letters of his name from the greek language, showing as i, h, s.
See this wall decoration representing that same wooden tablet:

As a devotion today,  January 1, with your family, or by yourself, consider first your name, why it was given to you, and what meaning it might have in your family, or the meaning the name itself has.  Then talk about the name of Jesus, and what it means, and especially what it means to you.  If you are not sure about the meaning of your or your family names, do an internet search.  Just type into a search engine box, such as Google, your name followed by a comma, followed by the word name, and you will find what you are looking for.

Include in your devotion how you might share the name of Jesus with someone else today, or this week.  Include in your devotions one or more of the bible readings for the day for the daily office:  Ps. 103; Ps. 148; Gen. 17:1-12a, 15-16; Col. 2:6-12; John 16:23b-30,

or for the Holy Communion, Numbers 6:22-27, Psalm 8,  Galatians 4:4-7 or  Philippians 2:5-11, and Luke 2:15-21.

Finish your devotion using prayers from the Prayer Book for the Holy Name, and for your family, and for our parish for this new year.   If you don’t have a prayer book at home you should consider purchasing one (there are several gift Prayer Books at the church); again use the internet and search for Collect, family (or Parish, or Holy Name).


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