Collect and Readings for the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus – Numbers 6.22-end, Psalm 8, Galatians 4.4-7, Luke 2.15-21

The Prayer for today

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was circumcised in obedience to the law for our sake and given the Name that is above every name: give us grace faithfully to bear his Name, to worship him in the freedom of the Spirit, and to proclaim him as the Saviour of the world; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The new year has dawned. Last night, and over the coming days, we will wish each other a Happy New Year. But what will we mean when we offer that greeting to one another?

In classical Greek, the word for ‘happiness’ is makários. But this word, which we also encounter in The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), can be translated in other ways. Makários does mean ‘happiness’, but it can also mean ‘blessed’, ‘fortunate’ and ‘happier’. When we wish each other a Happy New Year, we need to reflect upon what we really mean. Are we simply exchanging a traditional pleasantry, or are we praying for something more?

In today’s reading, on this feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, we read of happiness. We read of the happiness of the safe delivery of Mary’s son; the happiness of the shepherds as they found all as it had been told them by the angels; the happiness which bubbled over into glorifying and praising God; the happiness of bringing Jesus to his circumcision and naming. There is a great deal of makários in today’s reading, and not just in the sense of ‘happiness’.

Mary and Joseph’s happiness, like that of the shepherds, can also be counted as blessedness and good fortune. Despite the challenging and humble circumstances of his miraculous birth, Jesus’ coming into the world has brought a level of happiness, blessedness and good fortune that far exceeds our feeble attempts at defining such words. It also shows what we should be wishing upon each other at this turning point of another year. Let us pray that all whom we wish a Happy New Year might know the happiness of a real relationship with the Christ who came to bring redemption for us all.

Let us pray that the whole world might be blessed with the peace, love and light of Christ as we embark upon a new year. Let us pray that our faith might be shown in the happiness and blessedness that shines through our words and actions in the year that lies ahead.

Some things to reflect on:

• What are we really saying when we wish people a Happy New Year?

• How can our faith in Christ make a real difference to us and those we meet in 2023?

God bless and I wish you a blessed and Happy New Year and one in which you will find the hope an joy that Jesus Christ can bring.

Rev’d Fiona Robinson