Saturday, January 1, 2011

Feast of the Holy Name of the Lord Jesus Christ: 1 January 2011

The incarnation of the Lord marked him as the flesh-bearing son of Adam, subject to sin – though not guilty of it – in solidarity with all men. The circumcision of the Lord marked him, in the flesh of his incarnation, as the covenant-bearing son of Abraham, subject to the Law – though not guilty of it – in solidarity with all Israel. These two – incarnation and circumcision – locate Jesus in a particular story, in the Story of God’s redemptive purpose for all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve through this on, particular son of Abraham and the only-begotten Son of God.

St. Paul weaves these two Christological themes together with yet a third theme – baptism – and thereby locates us in the same story:

9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it
(Col 2:9-15, NKJV).

Our baptism – a spiritual circumcision which removes not a small piece of skin but the entire body of flesh and sin – marks us as the Spirit-bearing sons and daughters of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in solidarity with the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Lord. In one Anglican rite of Holy Baptism, the bishop or priest places a hand on the head of the newly baptized, marks on the forehead the sign of the cross in Holy Chrism, calls the new child of God by name and says: You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever. Amen (BCP 1979, 308). Yes, indeed: Amen.

Enthroned on high with the Eternal Father and Your divine Spirit,
O Jesus, You willed to be born on earth of the unwedded handmaid, your Mother.
Therefore You were circumcised as an eight-day old Child.
Glory to Your most gracious counsel;
glory to Your dispensation;
glory to Your condescension, O lonely Lover of mankind.
Troparion of the Circumcision of the Lord (oca.og)

And on that eighth day, when the son of Mary and Son of God was circumcised, he was also named in accordance with the word spoken by the angel:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Mt 1:20b-23, NKJV).

Jesus, savior. Immanuel, God with us. Glory to God for the incarnation, circumcision, and name of our Lord Jesus, the name at which every knee will bow and which every tongue will confess – Jesus is Lord – to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

No comments: