This weeks readings not only include the lectionary passages for the second Sunday after Christmas but also reading for the Holy Name of Jesus day, Jan 1st. It was the day Jesus was taken to the temple, named, circumcised and blessed. Just other weeks have four sets of readings, this day does too. Last year I wrote on some of the scripture passages for that day; so I went back and looked at which ones I had used. I had not used the passage from Philippians (the first passage cited below), so I am using it now along with the epistles passage for the second Sunday after Christmas. Later this week I will use another scripture passage.
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
There are some people whose name defines them, whether because of history or heritage in the name of meaning of the name. Those who are name after someone might be much like their name sake. Perhaps through being “junior” or the third in a generation of names. Or perhaps a “Jewel” or “Pearl” is like a gem; a “Daisy” or “Rose” reminds one of a flower. Our names can define us, make us or break us because of their meaning or conotation.
“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Verses 9 -11)
Other times we, or the name-holder, makes the name. A name becomes synonymous with some trait or characteristic because a person with that name did something outstanding. It is unusual in the English language to find someone named “Jesus.” In the Spanish/Hispanic tongue the “J” is sounded like an “H” so the name is more “Hey-zeus” to write it out phonetically. Similarly, you do not often find people named “Emmanuel” although in some cultures you might. May point is, we do not call our fellow humans by the names that we know God or the Divine as. That name is reserved for divinity and worship. Jesus was named “Jesus” as a special moniker, set aside and now reserved for the son of God.
May you, beloved reader, honor that name. But call on Jesus when ever the need arises. Selah!
Below is the Epistle passage for the second Sunday after Christmas. Because we have moved on from the nativity we are now encountering the grown Jesus. However, I find this description of Jesus by the writer of Ephesians to be complex and involved, from the standpoint of doing exegesis. It reminds me of the style this writer uses when writing blessings and prayers – hold on because once he gets started he is not going to stop until he gets to the end!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14)
There is a lot of theology packed in there; the nature of Christ, the nature of God, salvation, redemption and just a hint of atonement, the nature of the Holy Spirit, God’s intention for humanity, and exhortation to faith and belief in God. Even my favorite commentator, Barnes, goes on at length about all the meanings; but gives the reader warning that there is much obscurity. What is one to do?
Simple really; trust God and Jesus Christ. If the overall impact of the passage is that God is planning for us and looking out for us, and that Christ Jesus is on our side, then we can trust the details (large and small) to the Divine. And that might be the best way to enter into confession and penance, and to be assured that there is forgiveness.
May you, beloved reader, trust in God and Jesus Christ as you enter the New Year. Selah!