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

The Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ

January 1st — New Year’s Day — is the day when the church celebrates the Holy Name of Our Lord. The feast day is not associated with the civil new year; it relates to the naming and circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2:21). This day is celebrated by The Episcopal Church, as well as in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and many Eastern churches.

The name of Jesus has been a focus of Christian prayer and meditation since the earliest days of the church. The repetition of the name of Jesus is a key feature of the Jesus Prayer, which ties the name of Jesus and the theological identification of Jesus as the Son of God with a plea for mercy and a confession of our own sin. Even the Protestant reformer Martin Luther spoke highly of the practice of reverence for Jesus’ name, calling for “…a pure faith and confidence, and a cheerful meditation of and calling upon his Holy Name.”

Prayer and Lessons for the Day

As you celebrate the dawn of the new year, it would be most fitting to take some time to read and meditate on Holy Scripture, with particular emphasis on the Holy Name of Jesus for, as St. Peter said, “there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12b)

The Episcopal Church assigns the following lessons from Scripture for this day:

  • Numbers 6:22-27 – The Lord blesses the people of Israel with his own name.
  • Psalm 8 – The Lord’s name is exalted over all of the earth.
  • Philippians 2:5-11 – God has given Jesus the name that is above every other name.
  • Luke 2:15-21 – Jesus receives his name that was given to him by the angel before he was conceived.

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.
Collect for the Feast of the Holy Name (Book of Common Prayer, p. 213)