Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Eighth Day Of Christmas

The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus

Christmas is for family.

Not (just) gather-all-your-relatives-in-one-place family.  But gather-yourselves-into-God’s-family family.

As a Jewish boy, Jesus’ circumcision was an outward sign of living in covenant with God.  Covenant is described to us in our marriage vows where each partner turns to the other and declares: “All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you...”  It is an exchange of identities; a public declaration that what was previously two separate entities are from now on to be considered one being held in common, composed of two distinct-but-united persons.  It is a condition given and held in trust.  And it brings to each covenant-partner all the resources at the disposal of the other.

In recalling Jesus’ naming and circumcision – his identity, and the fullness of expression of that identity through covenant relationship with God the Father – we are not merely remembering the historical events surrounding his birth.  After all, the feasts of Christmas jump all over the place, historically.  Rather, we are telling a particular story, in a particular way.  What we are saying is this:

Christmas is about the possibility of entering-into covenant relationship with God (variously described in familial language: Father, children; brother, brothers and sisters; bridegroom, bride) through Jesus.

For Christians, baptism is the outward sign of that covenant, and today is a good day to renew our baptismal vows, and to reflect, at the outset of a new year, on the wonderful ongoing story of God-with-us and us-with-God.

Christmas is for family.

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