After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. --Luke 2:21
Circumcision doesn't get a whole lot of play in Christian tradition, especially since our understanding is that one does not need to cut a baby boy in order to show an allegiance to God and God's people. Circumcision is in the heart. At least that's what St. Paul told us as he was bringing Christ to the Gentiles who are part of our heritage.
But also part of this ritual is the naming of the child; hence why we call it the Feast of the Holy Name. And it was at this time that Mary and Joseph, following their divine instructions, name the child, "Jesus." Naming is a powerful act in the course of events in the Bible. Naming things, and claiming a name on things in our own lives, is a way of asserting some kinship with whatever it is that we are naming. We can also cast off the names that have been given to us that don't fit or accurately describe who we are. On this Feast of the Holy Name, the eighth day of Christmas, we can perhaps choose a new name to fit with the new life emerging from us at this season of good tidings and joy.
As I enter into 2014, I hope that I will gain confidence and courage in being willing to name myself as a person on a journey with God. It takes guts to do that. It isn't so much that I fear people rejecting me for being a Christian; I am more worried that some of the noisy gongs that have clanged out messages of hate in the name of Christ have upped the ante on what it takes for those of us aren't one of "them" to present ourselves in a way that won't offend just by identifying ourselves as affiliated with Christ. I am not going to plead persecution. I will plead misunderstanding.
And that's part of my on-going mission: to be a presence that isn't the nasty bastard Christian, but the more loving, steady presence of Love. Maybe that should be the name I adopt in 2014. Steady Presence of Love.