FRANCISCO-fact: Do we celebrate New Year’s Day in the Church?
Well, … yes and no. I know, this answer to a direct question is so Episcopalian. It is also true. The church does have a holiday for January 1, but it is not simply about celebrating New Year’s Day. On Sunday, January 1, the church calendar calls for the celebration of a Major Feast, one that supersedes all other calendar events on that day. The feast is The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on January 1 every year, but because that date is not usually on a Sunday, we do not often read the Propers, stories, or other prayers for that day, especially since there are parades, football bowl games, and hangovers to obscure the celebration.
The name of this celebration was changed from the Book of Common Prayer 1928 which bore the long-term English tradition of calling this the Feast of the Circumcision. January 1 is the eighth day since the birth of Jesus, who as a faithful Jew would be presented for his Abrahamically covenanted circumcision on that day, a practice among Jews to this day.
The name Jesus is the Greek transliteration of Joshua, probably in diminutive form. Like many of us, Greeks had a hard time pronouncing Hebrew, and, therefore, the Greek pronunciation was a difficult addition to the New Testament vocabulary. More importantly, the name Joshua, like many Hebrew names makes a divine reference and can be translated, “YHWH saves.” Jesus’ name, especially in its Hebrew form of Joshua, was common for first century Palestinian Jews. For Christians it becomes a holy name not only because of what it means in Hebrew but also because of the way Jesus lives out his name to save all people from their sins.
Join us this Sunday, January 1, at 8:00 AM or 10:00 AM for the celebration of The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ!