Summary: Appointed Gospel reading is only one verse for the day-- but if you dig in.... its pretty incredible
Concordia Lutheran Church
New Years Day, 2010
“Only one Verse?”
Grace and Peace to you, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!
It is perhaps the first time that I have seen such occur, the first time that the assigned gospel reading was just one verse. Perhaps because Sunday has not recently fallen on the first day of the year – for this is the reading assigned to this day. And for today, the first day of the year, it is always one verse.
Luke 2:21, 21And 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.
It takes more than a moment, even for someone who has spent his adult life studying scripture, to realize the importance of this verse. Because what does it matter that a ceremony no longer found important, was performed on an 8 day old baby, in a remote part of the world?
If you think it through, the significance is amazing.
He, the Lord, the one true God, the Messiah allowed himself to be identified…with us.
One verse… packed with meaning.. and leading to hope… and on a new year – having our past cut away… is a powerful message…
Identifying with the People of God
Circumcision goes back to the days of Abraham, and in Genesis he was commanded to be circumcised as well as all the males in his household and those who would be born. It was a way of being marked as part of the family that God had chosen to work through in a very specific way – indeed the promise was that through his descendant all nations would be blessed.
As Jesus is circumcised, he is made part of that family – he is united to the people of God through a blood covenant oath. An oath that pictured his blood being spilt much later, and in a much more dramatic way. But in that painful cut, he is made one of us.
HE is not just a God who stands idly by, as the early American Deists believed – the watchmaker God who sets things in motion and leaves everything to us. He comes and dwells among us, and identifies himself with us in the very ways that the faithful have – he will be circumcised, he will be presented at the Temple – he will later be baptized, and eventually, like all – will suffer death and its agony.
The Promise - Delivered
But in identifying with us, there is something more. There is the promise that comes in his naming – He is the IAM who saves us, the IAM who delivers His people. HE identifies with us, so that he can do that very thing. Deliver us through the troubles we face in our economy, deliver us through the challenges we face in our families, and in our work places.
He is the one willing to spill blood and have his flesh cut through, to make things right…
Our circumcision.. where we identify with Him!
Contrary to some, the concept of circumcision hasn’t left the church. It is still some we all go through, and it is something that happens to us in Christ. Hear Paul’s words on the matter,
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 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, 12 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. 13 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, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col 2:9 (ESV)
It is no longer circumcision as in the cutting around of flesh, but it is something far different. It is the spiritual removal of sin from our hearts, our souls, through baptism and its uniting us to Christ’s death, that we might be united to His resurrection.
It is God, carefully separating that which was made in His image, from the sin that mars it. To do this, He had to know that which he would operate on, He had to understand us, He had to be with us.
And so he was, at 8 days, getting cut and bleeding, and 30 plus years later, getting nailed to the cross.
As we look at this year, may we realize that which God has removed from us, is removed from us, and may we live – truly live, in the peace that is found in living in Christ. AMEN?