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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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Holy Name  January 1, 2017

Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:15-21

Today is Holy Name Day, January 1. We do not often get to celebrate this feast day because it falls on a Sunday only occasionally. On this day, when he was eight days old, Jesus officially received his name, the name that was given to him by the angel who told Joseph that this child  was the child of God.

Our first reading is the beautiful and powerful blessing from the Book of Numbers. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” God tells Aaron that this is the way in which God is going to put God’s name on God’s people. This is a blessing full of God’s love for us. It is a blessing full of God’s light and love and peace.

Our psalm today is a song of praise and thanks to God, who has given us stewardship over the world God has made.

In our reading from his Letter to the Galatians, Paul gives a brief but powerful summary of our faith. God sent his Son to free us from the bonds of the law and give us grace. God has adopted us as God’s own children so that we can call God “Daddy” or  “Mom.” Because of God’s love and grace, we are on the most intimate terms with God.

In our reading from Luke’s gospel, the angels have come to tell the shepherds the good news of the Birth of Jesus. Shepherds were not high on the social scale. Their work was dangerous and often dirty and difficult. But it is to these ordinary, lowly, common people that God sent the angels to share this joyous news.

So it is the shepherds who bring the good tidings to Mary and Joseph. They go to Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in the manger, and they tell Mary and Joseph what they have heard from the angels. The gospel tells us that “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” The angel Gabriel had already told her who this child was. Now she was hearing about this from the shepherds, who had heard the message from a multitude of angels.

There was so much to absorb. She and Joseph would be responsible for bringing up the child of God. What a profound responsibility that was! Very soon, they would have to take Jesus to Egypt to protect him from Herod. There was much to think about. As we meditate on Mary thinking about the meaning of all this, We can imagine that she asked for God’s help and grace to do the best she possibly could do in the joyful but also challenging ministry.

And we can also imagine that she. who was courageous and wise, knew that, with a king like Herod, there could be danger. And we can imagine that she asked God for courage. We know that she showed almost superhuman courage and faithfulness when the worst of the worst happened to her Son. Mary became a faithful disciple of her Son. She stood at the foot of the cross and she waited with the others for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The shepherds return to their work, exhilarated with the joy of having actually seen this extraordinary little baby and his earthly parents. Eight days later, Jesus received his name. Gene M. Tucker of Candler School of Theology at Emory University tells us, The name Jesus is a form of the name Joshua, which means ‘salvation from Jehovah.” Tucker notes that Jesus has already been called the savior of his people when the angel Gabriel was speaking with Mary.  

At our baptisms, we receive our names, and we receive our formal welcome as children of God and members of the Body of Christ. We receive the anointing with the oil of Chrism as the sign of the cross is made on our foreheads, marking us as Christ’s own forever.

In baptism we are made inheritors of the kingdom of God. We receive the blessings of God which were conferred so long ago in our first reading and we are made children of God in a very loving and intimate way, as described in our epistle.

Our readings today are full of blessings and gifts. The blessing of God’s love is so deep and so broad that, try as we will, we will never be able to fathom it or understand it. God’s love for us is so immense. It is beyond our comprehension. God has given us the whole world full of all its wonders and graces and gifts.

God has come to be with us—God with us, Emmanuel. Our loving God, full of grace and truth, has come to be with us and to show us the way. He marks us as his own beloved children. He takes us onto his lap and cherishes us. He leads us through the brambles and briars of life as our Good Shepherd.

Today, as we celebrate his receiving his name, we also remember that he knows each of us by name, and loves us, and leads us. These are Christmas gifts beyond measure. May God be praised, and may we be forever grateful. Amen.

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