This is a reflection on the collect for January 1, the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, from the Book of Common Prayer.
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
from Collects: Contemporary, The Online Book of Common Prayer
What does it mean for Jesus to be “the sign of our salvation”? Is it merely a way of avoiding Hell? A mantra by which to comfort ourselves in tough times? Someone to thank when things go well? And why plant it in every heart?
I believe in a Christ consciousness, available to all humans as a redemptive force, much like yeast or leaven, which when implanted in the human heart multiplies and bubbles up, making our hearts ever more attuned to those things that Christ cares about: his love of humanity and the heralding of his kingdom on earth. This moving, living ferment—the Holy Spirit is there not only to console our hearts in times of trouble or doubt, but also to convert us on some level. Not just to convert us from one way of thinking to another, but to convert us, in the Benedictine sense, to a new way of sensing and perceiving the world in our own bodies and through our own senses in the way that Christ senses and perceives the world: with supreme, unconditional, practical love. And this love is not just a feeling, but moves us, our limbs as well as our minds, to service, to gratitude, to worship.
The love of Christ, living in us, moves us to serve those who need the touch of Christ’s love.
The love of Christ, living in us, moves us to gratitude for the wonders of Creation and of the beautiful, complex beings humans are.
The love of Christ, living in us, moves us to worship the One who has given us so many gifts as well as the ability to see and appreciate those gifts in ever new and powerful ways.
Plant in our hearts, Lord God, this love and cultivate it, through your grace and through your Holy Spirit, that this love will grow and animate our moribund flesh to the joys and the power of living fully in Christ and in the world. Amen.
Written Friday, 01 January 2016 (12:13-12:33), Trenton, NJ.