Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sermon for Holy Name

Intro:   The celebration of this scriptural festival marks three events: first, the naming of the infant Jesus; secondly, the performance of the rite of circumcision as a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham "and his children for ever"—thus Christ's keeping of the Law; thirdly and traditionally, it is honored as the first shedding of the Christ's blood. The name Jesus means literally "Yahweh saves." The feast of the Holy Name of Jesus has been observed in the Church since at least the sixth century.

This name "which is above every name" has all things in it, and brings all things with it. It speaks more in five letters than we can do in five thousand words. It speaks more in it than we can speak today; and yet we intend today to speak of nothing else, nothing but Jesus, nothing but Jesus.

Before his birth the angel announced that this child, born of Mary, would be great: "he shall be called Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David." The angel thus intimates that this was a name of the highest majesty and glory. And what can we say upon it, less than burst out with the psalmist into a holy exclamation, "O Lord our Governor, O Lord our Jesus, how excellent is thy name in all the world!" It is all "clothed with majesty and honor;" it is "decked with light;" it comes riding to us "upon the wings of the wind"; the Holy Spirit breathes it full upon us, covering heaven and earth with its glory.

But it is a name of grace and mercy, as well as majesty and glory. For "there is no other name under heaven given by which we can be saved," but the name of Jesus. In his name we live, and in that name we die. As Saint Ambrose has written: "Jesus is all things to us if we will." Therefore I will have nothing else but him; and I have all if I have him.

The "looking unto Jesus" which the apostle advises, will keep us from being weary or fainting under our crosses; for this name was set upon the cross over our Savior's head. This same Jesus at the end fixes and fastens all. The love of God in Jesus will never leave us, never forsake us; come what can, it sweetens all.

Is there any one sad?—let him take Jesus into his heart, and he will take heart presently, and his joy will return upon him. Is any one fallen into a sin?—let him call heartily upon this name, and it will raise him up. Is any one troubled with hardness of heart, or dullness of spirit, or dejection of mind, or drowsiness in doing well?—in the meditation of this name, Jesus, all vanish and fly away. Our days would look dark and heavy, which were not lightened with the name of the "Sun of Righteousness"; our nights but sad and dolesome, which we entered not with this sweet name, when we lay down without commending ourselves to God in it.

So then let us remember to begin and end all in Jesus. The New Testament, the covenant of our salvation, begins so, "the generation of Jesus"; and "Come Lord Jesus," so it ends. May we all end so too, and when we are going hence, commend our spirits into his hands; and when he comes, may he receive them to sing praises and alleluias to his blessed name amidst the saints and angels in his glorious kingdom for ever.

from a sermon of Mark Frank

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