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The Naming of Jesus

Christmas
Christmas at a bus stop

January 1 is celebrated both as the Naming of Jesus (the 8th day after his birth – Luke 2:21), and as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Mary (“Miriam”) bears the same name as Moses’ sister. A strong woman. She is married to Joseph. The names of the rest of the family are also strong names recollecting their early history of liberation. Jesus (Joshua = “God saves/liberates/sets free”), James (Jacob), Joseph, Simon (Simeon), Judas (Judah), (Matthew 13:55). And, yes, we know Jesus had at least two sisters. It also tells a story that we don’t know their names…

Does your family go in for royal names (George, James, Henry, William, Elizabeth, Anne)? Famous sportspeople? Jesus’ family seemed to choose early liberation names. Jesus’ family chose names from the foundational deliverance stories of their nation. You can imagine what the Roman oppressors thought of people with names like this.

When the new Joshua (Jesus) crosses the Jordan (baptism) from the far side (Jn 1:28), re-entering the Promised Land, one can imagine the emails that hit Pontius Pilate’s PC from the equivalent of MI5 or the SIS. The strong Miriam-Mary and her family were a group to keep an eye on.

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The NZ Lectionary Booklet 2018 prints readings from “CW” (Common Worship, mother Church of England). Common Worship has no status in NZ Anglicanism. We, in fact, have our own agreed readings and psalm for this day found in our formularies (A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa page 643).

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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