After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21)
Before he was conceived: that is early. Perhaps not so early for some eager parents, but paired with the giver of the name, a lot to anticipate for a little baby.
Expectation. That is part of what comes with a baptism. The name we give a child, the name with which we greet them, says something of our hope for them, for our relationship with them, and for their relationship with the world.
We want Barack to be Blessed, as their name implies, and we want them to be a blessing.
John, meaning God is gracious, as in John the Baptist or John the Evangelist, we expect to send us that message: God is gracious.
Perhaps we name a child after a living relative whom we wish to honor. Or perhaps we name a child after an ancestor, someone whose name we wish to live on in memory.
We put something of ourselves into a name, then. A hope. A connection. A relationship.
And then we come to this day, the first of January, and remember the greatest name - and naming - of all.
His name will be called Jesus. For he will be the deliverer of his people. And so he was. And so he is.
That is what we remember today. That is what we recollect and bring into our own present. The knowledge that the greatest of all names is given not to the loudest or the largest or the tallest. It is given to the one to whom is is given by God.
And it is given to us, to gather us together, a banner above us, and a flag to follow.
For it is the one name, the true name, that we are to follow. And to follow it means to live in love. To bear hope into the world. And more than that to bear his name and carry his message, in word and in action.
And so we make these promises, the gift of the baptismal covenant of our people, that we will carry that burden of love, bear that message of hope, and come forward when we are called to follow. For we are his people, and he is our God.
The Baptismal Covenant is found on pages 304-305 of the Book of Common Prayer.
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.
O Lord our governor, •
how glorious is your name in all the world! (Psalm 8:1)
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)