This Sunday has a number of possibilities. It is the Sunday after Christmas, it is also the Feast of the Holy Name, and it is the first Sunday of 2012. Take your pick. I will be commenting on the texts above.
Below are the scriptures suggested for January 1 emphasis:
- The Old Testament Lesson is the Aaronic blessing from Numbers. It is the blessing of the Israelites that God gives Aaron and his sons. Personally, I would not use the reading early in the service, but would close the service with this benediction and giving a footnote that this was the OT lesson for the day. But, it does refer to the Holy Name of God which is placed on Israel and that relates to the feast day emphasis.
- The Psalm picks up on the theme of the name–there are numerous hymns and contemporary songs that use psalm 8 for a reference. Find a way to say and sing the Psalm today. Note that both the primary lectionary texts and those suggested for January 1 include Psalm 8 as a reading.
- There are two suggested Epistle lessons for the day. The Holy Name theme continues though Philippians 2. Galatians 4 has its own powerful message. You can go back to notes on Philippians 2 at Sermon Notes 9/25/11 or Thoughts on 9/25/11. galatians 4 is a short and concise lesson that speaks to our place as God’s children because of the birth of Jesus. It concludes with this phrase: So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. I think that’s enough said.
- The Gospel continues the birth narrative and takes us to the eighth day when Jewish boys are circumcised and given their names. When reading the lectionary this time of year, we get to see Jesus foretold in Advent, Jesus born at Christmas, Jesus given the Holy Name of Jesus on the eighth day, then as an older infant when the Magi visit on the Epiphany. But don’t blink, the Baby grows up and is being baptized and heading into ministry on the very next Sunday–the Baptism of the Lord. I say, savor the story of the Baby Jesus, he grows up quickly and calls us to ministry.
- Good notes at Currents in Theology and Mission
- Sermons that Work (Feast of the Holy Name)
- Another from Sermons that Work