Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Our liturgy comes from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP). You can download it by clicking below

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Epiphany IV

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Next Service: Candlemas on Thursday at 6pm

Today we celebrate a very special feast being the Octave Day (Eighth Day, the final day of the Octave) of Christmas. We shall see in the reading today how Christmas and today’s feast are interconnected by showing how His circumcision would foreshadow the Crucifixion to come.In the Gospel for the Circumcision of Christ found in the second chapter of St. Luke starting at the fifteenth verse, we read:

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.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

21 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.

I would like to focus on Verse 21 for today’s reflection. Why does St. Luke mention the Circumcision? After all, he is a gentile doctor. He is not Jewish, unlike the other Gospel writers. So, why then mention this fact? It seems an interesting factoid for a Gentile Doctor to mention in His Gospel account. St. Luke is showing us a deeper understanding of covenant.

What was a covenant? One can think of Covenant like a sort of ancient contract. It was a promise if you will between two parties. One party was usually weaker than the other party. In Hebrew, these two parties would “karat,” or cut, a covenant. In fact the Hebrew word “berit” referred to a cutting. Blood would be spilled to enact the covenant. The lesser party would take the penalty, which God freely takes on Himself throughout the Bible. God uses Covenants consistently throughout the Bible. There are many covenants and we could discuss them in great detail, but we will focus on the Covenant made with Abraham.

In Genesis 17, we read of the promise that God makes with Abraham and tells him that his name will no longer be Abram but it will be Abraham. He will be a father of many nations. God says that all boys shall be circumcised at the age of eight days. God makes this covenant not only for His faithfulness to His Covenant people but also in preparation for a much greater plan.

What would have happened if Jesus was not circumcised? Well, Genesis 17 tells us that He would have been cut off from the people and would have been in opposition to the Torah, or Written Law. Jesus had to be obedient and fulfill this law. He was fulfilling the promises from His very birth! He would have been cut off from the Jewish people and God’s plan would have not been fulfilled. This is the first step in that plan. The first shedding of blood for our behalf. He would spill His blood for the first time for our benefit. He, being God, would be the stronger party of the covenant and take the punishment for our sins. He would be the weaker party and be slain for our transgressions.

The Biblical Covenants are a sign of God’s faithfulness in our lives. It was a plan that was carefully thought out by God and shown throughout history. Each Covenant that God enacted had a temporal benefit to those around at that time, but it also pointed to the larger covenant that God would cut with His people by sacrificing Himself on that Cross. Each time we take the Eucharist we should be reminded of that cut that was performed. The fact that each of the covenants would culminate in that great covenant when He would give Himself up freely be cut for our sins for our redemption. When he would be the weaker party, the lamb who would be slain. This is the gift of Christmas that culminates in the Octave Day today! The day He would first give His blood for us freely!

In Christ,

Fr. Brandon Cribbs

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