Happy New Year!
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. The Gospel for the Festival of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, Luke 2:21
Now greet the swiftly changing year, with joy and penitence sincere.
Remember now the Son of God and how He shed His infant blood.
This Jesus cam to end sin’s war; this Name of names for He bore.
His love abundant far exceeds the volume of a whole year’s needs
Rejoice! Rejoice! With thanks embrace another year of grace!
Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 896
Today the Church observes the Circumcision and Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is appropriate to do s particularly on this the first day of the “new” year. What makes a year “new”? It is all rather arbitrary, is it not? We know that calendars have changed over the centuries. What we can say for a certainty is that some 365 days ago we were at this very point in space in our planet’s orbit around the sun, which, in its turn, is making its way in the cosmos as part of our galaxy, which is but one of countless other galaxies making their way out across the vast and unthinkably far reaches of the universe. It is enough to make one’s head reel with dizzy contemplation of the vastness both of space and time in which we exist. And it is precisely into this time, and into this place, that the Infant King broke into our reality, the Son of God, the Word, was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. And on this day we remember the first shedding of His innocent blood as payment for our sin, as the ransom, that won us from sin, death and the devil. We recall His circumcision, done to fulfill all righteousness, on the eighth day of his life, as commanded in the Old Testament law of God, a Law he came to fufilll, entirely and completely for you and for me. And on this day, just as the angel told St. Joseph, His name was formally given: Jesus. It is a name that in Hebrew means, literally, “Yahweh saves.” Indeed, He does!
And so our Old Testament reading for today is from Numbers 6:22-27, the great tripart Aaronic benediction, bringing to mind the Name into which we are baptized, and the Name with which we are blessed our whole life through at the conclusion of the Divine Service, when the Lord’s minister pronounces it upon us. The Epistle, Galatians 3:23-29, explains the ramifications of our Lord’s submission to the Law of God: freedom for us by means of justification by grace through faith! Praise be to God.