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Jesus is named.

January 1, 2012

Today is the day the church celebrates the “Holy Name of Jesus.” The gospel reading for today climaxes with Mary and Joseph naming Jesus. And of course they named him, “Jesus.”

The name Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek name Iesous that is related to the Hebrew name Joshua which means “Jehovah (God) is salvation.”

Here’s the story from Luke 2:15-21

 “15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

 21When the eighth day arrived, the day of circumcision, the child was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived.”
(from The Message, translated by Eugene Peterson)
What strikes me immediately is the contrast between the sheep-herders and Mary.
The sheep-herders are classic extroverts. Their first reaction to this news is to start talking. They tell anyone and everyone who will listen what they heard from the angels and eventually saw for themselves. They are processing it out loud, in conversation, excitedly.
Then there’s Mary. She takes a more contemplative approach and just stores all this in deep down and ponders it. She is acting here as a classic introvert. Processing things internally. Thinking things over in silence.
Another way to look at this passage would be to see the sheep herders as enthusiastic Pentecostals and Mary as a reserved high church liturgy type. There’s room for both in the unfolding Story of God!
+++ Lord, thank you for the diversity of reactions recorded in your Story around your birth. There’s such great high notes of angelic choir celebrations and verbal proclamations coupled with silent, holy nights of contemplation. Help me to embrace both celebration and contemplation as parts of the greater whole of knowing, loving and worshiping you in all the diversity of your church & kingdom. Amen. +++


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