It is a wonderful coincidence that 1st January follows seven days after 25th December when we celebrate the birth of Christ. For on the eighth day, according to Jewish practice, newborn males are circumcised and named.
This festival actually marks three scriptural events:
- Firstly, the naming of the infant;
- Secondly, circumcision as the sign of the covenant between God and ‘Abraham and his children’
- And thirdly, it is traditionally the first shedding of Christ’s blood
The fact that Jesus was circumcised indicates that he entered the great tradition of his fathers, yet his blood would be uniquely shed on the cross. In the gospels perhaps the most significant of the three events celebrated today is the name itself, which means ‘Yahweh saves’ and so is linked to the question that Moses asked of God: “What is your name?” “I am who I am,” was the reply, hence the significance of Jesus’ claim, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Miracles were performed in the name of Jesus as is baptism, we are justified in the name of Jesus and Jesus is the name above all others. Furthermore, all Christian prayer is through ‘Jesus Christ our Lord.’ This feast has been observed in the church since at least the sixth century.