January 1, 2017


Christmas 1 - Year A

A Sermon Preached by The Rev Ian M Delinger on January 1, 2017

Today, January 1, has several different names in the Church:

  • It’s most complicated for the Roman Catholics:  if  Christmas falls on a Sunday (as in 2016), then the Feast of the Holy  Family is celebrated on Friday, Dec. 30, so that the following Sunday,  Jan. 1, the Octave of Christmas, can be celebrated as the Solemnity of  the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • The Lutherans are celebrating the First Sunday of Christmas.
  • For some reason, the Methodists are translating The Epiphany to January 1 this year.
  • For us Episcopalians, it is the Feast of the Holy Name.
  • And  the most intriguing is the Mother Church. January 1 in the Church of  England is the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. For 14yrs, I have  wondered why we have millions of Holy Name Churches, but no Church of the Circumcision. If we ever have to re-build and open our doors on January 1, be prepared.

Of  course, in Jewish tradition, an infant boy is named and circumcised 8  days after birth. So, today’s commemoration is wholly appropriate.


Names  are important. They define a person. We have moved away from naming  children in a way that their name defines their character. For example,  Joseph was told by the Angel to name the Child Jesus, “for he will save  his people from their sins.” The word “Jesus” means “Savior”. And everyone in Jesus’ time would have known that.


The  2 most popular baby names of 2016 were Jackson for boys and Sophia for  girls. Are any of those Jackson really the sons of a father named Jack?  And what characteristics of the baby girls warranted the appellation of  “Wisdom”? We know that our own Sophia Agbo is wise, but what about these  infant girls?  

My  names means:  Gracious gift from God. You know that I’m adopted, and  may be thinking that my parents had deep theological reasons for naming  me Ian, which is Scottish for John. In reality, my mother met someone in  college named Ian, and liked the name. I was her chance to use that  name. I didn’t meet another Ian until I was 21. And then my cousin’s son  was named Ian. I went to England…and everyone is named Ian!!


Turn  to your neighbor and tell her or him about your name – what it means,  what you feel about it. If there are any deep-seeded unresolved issues,  you might want to reserve those for later.


Now that you have had time to share the meaning and significance of your names, will a few of you share what you learned?


Our names are part of who we are. In many cultures, including the Hebrews of the Old Testament, one was not considered fully a person until named. Your name is not only about yourself, but it also how you are known to the world.  Some go by nicknames or shorten their names. Pet names for children and  spouses show the deep affection that one has for another.


Today,  we remember that a baby in a land far away, who was Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, that Baby was named Jesus: Our Messiah, Our Savior.



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