Tuesday 01 January 2019

Bible Book:

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (v 21)

Luke 2:15-21 Tuesday 1 January 2019

Psalm: Psalm 8     


Ritual and ceremony have always been used to mark important stages in life like birth, marriage and death.

Today is the first day of a new year but it is also the day when the Church remembers the naming and circumcision of Jesus.

You might think that there is nothing much to celebrate about the ancient Jewish tradition of removing a baby boy’s foreskin but this small operation is significant because it is also the time when the child Jesus was formally given his name.

This is a solemn moment – a dual confirmation of identity and heritage – and a clear fulfilment of the angel’s words to Mary in Nazareth in Luke 1:31 (“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”)

This account of Jesus’ naming and circumcision has been extensively depicted in artworks over the centuries. However, while some artists show the ceremony taking place in the Temple, it has also been suggested that the actual Jewish practice at the time would have seen it happening at home and carried out by the father. So the implication is that this took place in Bethlehem and the Holy Family travelled to the Temple in Jerusalem later so that they could ‘present’ Jesus to God and complete Mary’s religious requirements for purification after childbirth.

This might seem a strange reading for the first day of our new year. But it’s an interesting place to be. We may not mark the same rituals and ceremonies as the Holy Family, but we will have our own rituals for this time of year – seeing out the old year, making resolutions for the new one, making plans for the marker points of our lives that will happen this year.

In the twelve months to come, we will mark births, deaths and marriages in our own families and faith communities. How do we make them meaningful and what new markers do we need to identify as our society changes and develops?


To Ponder:

  • What are the new marker points of life that people in our communities are looking to create?
  • How can we enable these marker points to be celebrated and affirmed?
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