The Circumcision of Christ
Primus Pilus Carroll I - MMVI
ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [ca 600AD]. Circumcision was required eight days after birth. Some now call this day "The Holy Name". New Year's Day is of pagan origin, and this day was at a fast day as early as the 6th century. It is based on Romans ii. 29, Collosians iii. 5, and Titus ii. 12
Philippians ii. 9. St. Luke ii. 15
"his name was called JESUS"
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Philippians ii. 9.
GOD also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
St. Luke ii. 15.
AND it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Scripture from 1928 Book of Common Prayer
The Collects of Thomas Cranmer
Sermon from the Anglican Breviary
The Circumcision and the Holy Name of Jesus
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Circumcision - known in some places as the Feast of the Holy Name. This is the eighth day since the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the Church celebrates on the 25th of December, and has since the time of Constantine.
It is written in the 17th chapter of Genesis: " he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seedů and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
The circumcision was a sacrament of the Jewish church in that it was an outward sign of an inward grace. In today's Old Testament Lesson from the 30th chapter of Deuteronomy it is written, "the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Although Gentiles are not required to be physically circumcised, (Paul even speaks against it) we are called to spiritual circumcision. In the 10th chapter of Deuteronomy it is written: Circumcise the foreskin of thy heart, and be not stiffnecked. This was the essence of our Collect today.
Paul in 1st Corinthians says: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.." The counsel of the elders in Jerusalem in Acts decided that circumcision was not required, but what was? - Baptismů and for many the sacrament of Baptism has been regarded in the Church as the replacement for circumcision, except it is given for all, male and female, for the initiation of the faithful into the Church and the seal of their membership in the body of Christ. This brings us to the custom of naming the child at the time of circumcision in the Jewish church, and for us at the time of Baptism when we receive our Christian name.
The name of Jesus, which means God's Salvation, was a 1st Century form of Joshua. This name Jesus, as you recall, was given by the angel before Jesus was conceived to both Mary and Joseph and that is affirmed in today's Gospel where Luke says, "when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
We Christians do homage to the very name of Jesus. As Paul says in our epistle, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." In the early church, there were canons passed in the ecumenical council that required that at the name of Jesus one should bow their head, and this is still practiced in orthodox churches today.
We know also that it is by no other name that we may come to God, but through the Son only. Paul says in the 10th Chapter of Romans, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. And in Acts 4:12 Luke wrote, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. This is an article of faith in many churches [see Article XVIII, BCP]
There is a false gospel preached today. It would say there are many paths to salvation, and one need not believe on Christ Jesus to be saved. But this is not the Gospel we were given. If you believe the words of Christ you must renounce those ministers who call themselves Christians and preach this error, (an error preached this year in the US National Cathedral for one), for Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Some may find this offensive and a hard teaching, but I can preach no other Gospel than that which has been given to me in Scripture. Christianity is not an inclusive religion for unbelievers, but salvation comes to those who believe on the name of our Lord, JESUS the Christ, confess him with their lips, and believe on him in their heart. A confessed belief that is confirmed in our baptism and naming before God. Amen