Naming Jesus – Who Do We Think That He Is?

by Christine Sine
Good Samaritan by He Qi

Good Samaritan by He Qi

Today on the liturgical calendar, is the day we celebrate the circumcision of Christ.  Since our cultures are more squeamish than were those of our ancestors, modern calendars usually list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.   Just like every Jewish boy, Jesus as circumcised and formally named on the eighth day of his life, and so, one week after Christmas, while we are still celebrating the wonder and the joy of the Saviour who came to dwell amongst us, we celebrate this occasion  In Jesus day, a name was far more important than it tends to be today.   Introducing a person just about gave you their whole genealogy and sometimes even reflected their personality.

As a celebration of then naming of Jesus why not get together with a group of friends for a party maybe not today but after those New Year hangovers have settled. This could be a good way to shake off those post Christmas blues.  Bring a name book with you.  Look up the names of each person in your group and discuss their meanings.  Get each person to share the story of why they were given that name.  Then ask the question: In what ways does your name reflect the call that God has placed on your life?  Some of you may like to consider a new name that reflects what you believe is God’s call on your life.  One friend of mine changed his name from Bill to Will because he felt it better reflected his desire to use his life “doing the will of God.”

Next spend time discussing the names of Jesus.  Get each person to write down the names that they remember as being applied to Jesus in the Scriptures.  You might like to have a competition to see who can think of the most names.  Or you could write a poem or song that reflects these names.  End your time with a discussion about how you could represent these different aspects of who Jesus can be to those who live around you.

Names matter. What we call Jesus matters. If we see him as Lord it can imply a distant and unapproachable God who is unconcerned for human suffering. If we call him servant, we see him down in the dirty places of our world and we want to join him. I have written about this previously in the post: Sometimes I want to Call God Mother. Think about it for a few minutes and then listen to this powerful 5 minute sermon by Rev SM Lockridge entitled That’s My King.

Or you might like to use this liturgy to reflect on:

Liturgy for Holy Name Day

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rtrube54 January 1, 2014 - 12:49 pm

Thanks for the great ideas! I’m surprised when I’ve talked with people about names that those of other, non-Western, cultures are often very conscious of what their names mean whereas many of us are not. At the same time, I have found that many have stories about the significance of their names in their families. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen a piece on the naming of Jesus–thanks for writing this!

Christine Sine January 1, 2014 - 12:51 pm

Your welcome – it is not something that I was familiar with until I started to explore the liturgical calendar. Now I like to sit down on January 1st and think of all the names that I could apply to Jesus. It is a wonderfully stimulating exercise

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