While the civil calendar marks January 1 as New Year’s Day, the Church celebrates January 1 as the Feast of the Holy Name, Jesus. Although the two might be celebrated in different ways, they are not necessarily in opposition. Behind the celebrations, resolutions, and good wishes associated with the New Year I suspect there are, for many people, hope and a deep longing for a different life and a different world. Ultimately, our hope, however, is not in changed circumstances but in Jesus, whose name means God saves.
As we look to and move into the New Year let’s keep the Holy Name close. Let’s keep it always on our lips. Let’s embody it in our actions. Let’s align our lives with these prayers in the coming year.
Almighty Father, you give the sun for a light by day, and the moon and the stars by night: Graciously receive us, this night and always, into your favor and protection, defending us from all harm and governing us with your Holy Spirit, that every shadow of ignorance, every failure of faith or weakness of heart, every evil or wrong desire may be removed far from us; so that we, being justified in our Lord Jesus Christ, may be sanctified by your Spirit, and glorified by your infinite mercies in the day of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (A Service for New year’s Eve, Book of Occasional Services 2003, p.44)
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (Collect for the Holy Name, Book of Common Prayer, p. 213)
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis, Book of Common Prayer, p. 833)