Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we approach a new year, one which has a ring to it, 2020, I hope and pray that we all have a holy and peaceful New Year. The first of January is kept as "The naming and circumcision of Jesus,‟ in the church, and we all carry that name in our hearts and on our foreheads.
At baptism we were signed with the cross and the cross and Jesus' name are inseparable. We carry Jesus‟ name on our foreheads. Not that people can see it, because the water dried up soon after baptism, but you cannot erase it, the name is still there. It marks us for ever, whether we are awake and busy or are asleep and resting. Those who use the holy water to sign themselves in coming into church are reminded of that name each time they enter the building. They are reminded that they are special in God‟s eyes, baptised and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was named, just as the Angel Gabriel had said to his mother Mary. Jesus, the one who saves!
For that is what the name means. Jesus and the name Joshua mean, "the one who saves.‟ It is a human name; there were many Jesus' and Joshuas in first century Palestine, but this time it was special, blessed by God and spoken by the angels. So eight days after his birth, Jesus is named and circumcised in accordance with the Jewish law. This ties him to his ancestry, all the way back to Moses and the law. All the Jewish people had a naming ceremony, boys with circumcision as well, a sign that is certainly indelible. Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, who would suffer and die for us and by doing so, would save humankind for all time.
So that sign above our eyes, the name of Jesus in the shape of a cross marks us out for all time as saved. Yet how will other people know that we are signed and saved? By our actions and if necessary our words. By acts of kindness and love. By a silent listening ear when friends are in troubled times. By patient enduring of our own trials and troubles.
I hope and pray that this new year brings no trouble but if it should, remember that you are signed and sealed with the name of Jesus. Remember that you are saved and go forward in joy!