A New Year, Jesus in a new begining

From the Rector:

Two days ago was the first day of 2019. It’s hard to believe. All around us there were celebrations for the arrival of this New Year. We love new things in our society—the newer the better. In the new we sense hope, the future, that all will be well. I can’t help but wonder if this, too, is part of our consuming culture—to seek the new not only to hide from “what has been” but also to give us the assurance that we are here now and up-to-date. Here’s a little secret I hold: I don’t really care for the New Year that much. Maybe I’m just “getting old,” but I prefer a quiet night in with friends and family and good food over the frolicking parties and night life of the New Year festivities. What I love about the church calendar is that there is almost always another story to our national holidays with deep connections to our faith. In many African American churches Dec. 31st is spent in prayer, together, with song and fellowship, not in anticipation of the New Year, but in remembrance of when President Abraham Lincoln set forth the Emancipation Proclamation. The tradition is called Night Watch, as African Americans waited in prayer on December 31, 1862 for the Proclamation to go in effect the next day, January 1, 1863. To this day, this tradition is observed all over the country. January 1 in most liturgical traditions is known as The Holy Name—that day that we remember how the Christ child is named eight days after his birth, as was Jewish tradition. He is given the name, Jesus. The Hebrew word Yeshua that we translate as “Jesus” or “Joshua” means “God saves and helps.”  Jesus’ parents had been given that name by an angel who promised that through this child God would bring salvation to the world. The name of Jesus is unique for us Christians and that is true for obvious reasons. Simply speaking it into our lives, from our lips, in our hearts touches us with the power of God. This might strike you as “far-fetched” and I do not mean to say this is “magic”; rather, I know this to be true when we hold hands in the hospital room, or gather around the altar, or in a moment of deep need, thanks, or confusion. Simply calling upon the name of Jesus is power in this life. Truly it is God who saves and helps us.

As we begin this new year, I encourage you to take notice of how we, as the church, place the name of Jesus upon this new beginning. Yes, it is eight days after the 25th, but is also the sign of what is to be the foundation of every year, every day of our lives—the name of Jesus, God saves and helps us. This coming Sunday we will celebrate Epiphany, that holy-day that we remember how this name is for all people, this good news of Jesus is for all—no matter their name, their identity, their place of birth, or even their faith. All are invited to this Jesus. It is Jesus who is for us all, God who saves and helps us.

See you Sunday,