Circumcision of Christ stained glassOddly, the more sexualised our society has become, the more prudish we have become about the life of the infant Jesus.

In Jewish custom, the male child was circumcised on the eighth day of his birth and duly given a name. You can read more about it concerning our Lord Jesus Christ in my post from 2010.

For centuries in Christianity, the eighth day after Christmas was called the Feast of the Circumcision. Not many parents explained to their young daughters the meaning of this word. However, if there were sons in the house where Christian cultures practiced the rite for hygiene purposes, then it is probable that the girls knew what the term signified.

Yet, at the end of the 20th century, there was a move away from the ‘dirty’ word in an age which saw ever-soaring teenage pregnancies and general fornication. The more carnal we become, the more modest we falsely make ourselves appear to be in the face of the Almighty God and His Son. It is laughable — and pathetic. It seems that, by notionally sanitising the life of Jesus we attempt to appear cleaner in His sight. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember Who died on the Cross — for all our sins and failings. His circumcision was only the beginning of the blood which He would shed a few decades later.

Wikipedia gives us the full story for Catholics and Protestants. You shall see that calling this feast by the name that it was originally known — the Circumcision — better explains its significance in the life of Christ and His relationship towards us sinners.

Most of the content of article follows, emphases mine.

The circumcision of Jesus has traditionally been seen, as explained in the popular 14th-century work the Golden Legend, as the first time the blood of Christ was shed, and thus the beginning of the process of the redemption of man, and a demonstration that Christ was fully human, and of his obedience to Biblical law.

Roman Catholic Church

Until the 15th century the Catholic Church celebrated the Circumcision and what is now the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus together. The emphasis on the latter in the preaching of Saint Bernardino of Siena appears to be the origin of the de-coupling. Until 1960, the General Roman Calendar gave 1 January as the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord and the Octave of the Nativity. In the 1960 rubrical and calendrical revision under Pope John XXIII, incorporated into his 1962 Roman Missal (whose continued use is authorized by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum), 1 January is called simply the Octave of the Nativity. Since 1969, the General Roman Calendar celebrates 1 January as the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, referring to it also as the Octave of the Nativity.

Anglican Communion

The Anglican communion‘s Book of Common Prayer liturgy celebrates this day as the Circumcision of Christ.

Since 2000, the Common Worship of the Church of England lists this day as the “The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus Christ.”

In our Anglican parish, the midweek service for the first day of 2014 is called … ‘Happy New Year’.

Lutheran Church

Since it was a feast of Christ and related directly to Scriptural passages (notably Luke 2:21), the Feast of Circumcision was retained by churches of the Lutheran Reformation. It remains on most Lutheran liturgical calendars to this day, although there has been a general move to call it “The Name of Jesus.”[8] Martin Luther preached at least one notable sermon on this feast day which is still available in his Church Postils, and up until the late 1970s, Lutheran hymnbooks would contain several hymns relating to this subject.

Even the Reformed (Calvinist) churches continue to refer to this feast by its proper name:

The feast is also praised in the Second Helvetic Confession, Chap. 24. So, it at least was permitted by elements in the Reformed wing of the Reformation…

Provided that the feast falls on a Sunday, no doubt. The Reformed often do not observe Christian feast days between Sundays. Feeling obliged to attend a service held on a Christmas Day which occurs between Sundays can also be a source of conflict in some Reformed demonimations.

To put Christ’s circumcision into larger context — denominational differences aside — let us look at the following excerpt from a sermon by John Wycliffe. He reflected on Matthew 26:26, wherein Christ declared to the Apostles at the Last Supper, ‘This is My Body’:

for when Jesus spake of the bread, and said to His disciples, As ye do this thing, do it in mind of me, it was set for a mind of good things passed of Christ’s body; but when the angel showed to John the sacraments of the woman and of the beast that bare her, it was set for a mind of evil things to come on the face of the earth, and great destroying of the people of God. And in the old law there were many figures or minds of things to come. For before Christ, circumcision was commanded by a law; and he that kept not the law was slain. And yet St. Paul saith, “And neither is it circumcision that is openly in the flesh, but he that is circumcised of heart in spirit, not the letter whose praising is not of men, but of God.”

For that reason, New Year’s Day will always be the Feast of the Circumcision for me.

May we remember Christ’s sufficient sacrifice for us as we go about our daily duties in 2014.

A happy New Year to all of my readers. Thank you, to old friends and new, for your support throughout 2013.