January 1, 2 – Each New Year
January 1st and 2nd are really just like any other days. The only thing that really changes is the digit on the end of year that we tend to disremember when writing it the first few times. But we’ve universally identified ‘New Years’ as a time of starting over, changing things in our lives, getting better. Today, the newness of that little ‘9’ on the end of the four-digit year holds the promise of a new life – at least that is what we tell ourselves when driving by the donut shop or tell colleagues at marketing meetings.
In the early church, and in some traditions today, though, there is a different focus. For it was on the eighth day after His birth that the Lord Jesus Christ was circumcised, as was the custom for all male Jewish infants as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (see Genesis 17:10-14, Leviticus 12:3).
After circumcision the baby would be named, in His case, Jesus, as the Angel told Mary in Luke 1:31-33 and 2:21, which means Savior. He would be the Savior of the world.
From His circumcision we can learn how important it is to follow God’s instructions, as even the One who Authored the Law followed the ritual. And, importantly, that Jesus was a real baby, His was real flesh, He wasn’t a phantom or some kind of Divine illusion – He was God Incarnate.
Jesus confirmed the covenant between God and Abraham before He ‘drafted,’ a New Covenant in the blood of the cross and the victory of the resurrection. In the new covenant the ancient ritual of circumcision transitioned to the mystery of Baptism, which it had been a symbol of.
Now, people who desire to follow Jesus enter into a New Covenant with God through baptism and are named Christian, which means Christ-like or Christ-follower. As St. Paul wrote, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” Colossians 2:11-13.
In our celebration this new year, let’s consider a new tradition – the celebration of Christ’s circumcision and naming, for it foreshadows the New Covenant He would make with, not just the Jewish people, but the whole world, that we now enter in and become Christian.
“It is a New Year, refresh in my heart, Lord, the reality of the New Covenant – that You truly love me, You have poured Your grace over my life, and You have healed me – made me alive together with You. I am no longer dead in my sins. Make this a year of Life and Joy, Lord, no matter my circumstances, for I have You, the Rock of my Salvation and Lover of my Soul.”