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Name Him Yeshua

What do we need from a New Year’s post? What do we say?

That it’s been hard? You don’t need the Rabbit Room to tell you that. That surely this year will be better? Being a poet doesn’t make you a prophet.

What else you got?

Eight days after Christmas, what do we have? It’s not a trick question. We’ve got an eight-day-old Jewish baby who’s still fussy because he was circumcised this morning and even the Son of God didn’t think that routine fun.

The Gregorian calendar jots this down as New Year’s Day, but the church calendar started its new year at Advent. Today is the Feast of the Holy Name.

Eight days old, circumcise him, name him Yeshua. “Deliver.”

And two millennia later, we are still only sounding out a mystery: we the weary, the thrust forward, the weeping, the singing, the saved, we the confused, the expectant of the great hell-wave of tragedy, the caught off-guard by the blue flower in the gravel. We live life, but we cannot define it. Someday I hope I might write words simple enough to describe it. Meanwhile and always we speak the holy name and talk of all that might be meant by that holy claim to save:

Yeshua, Yeshua, Yeshua:

Ours the land remade, the sky reframed, ours the inheritance, ours the stars and sand, the colors never seen and notes never heard except caught sometimes as an old echo in our minds between two waves of the sea, ours all the words we have not yet learned to speak; and so we speak the one word we have been given:

Yeshua, Yeshua, Yeshua:

Ours the year we’re beginning and the strange grace of today when, for one day out of the year, the entire western world and beyond agrees that something is being made new and celebrates that together.


Ours the white stone and the coming feast of our own holy names.


Men speak it as a promise, a lament, often as a blessing, often spat as a curse:


And here at the beginning of 2021, it is all I can think to say:


This is what we’ve got.

And with each new year, we have never been so near to putting a face with the name:


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