The Naming & Circumcision of Jesus

1 January -- Festival -- White

The celebration of this scriptural festival marks three events: firstly, the naming of the infant; secondly, the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham 'and his children for ever', thus Christ's keeping of the Law; and thirdly, traditionally the first shedding of the Christ's blood. The most significant of these in the gospels is the name itself, which means 'Yahweh saves' and so is linked to the question asked by Moses of God: "What is your name?" "I am who I am," was the reply, thus the significance of Jesus's words: "Before Abraham was, I am." This feast has been observed in the church since at least the sixth century.


Almighty God,
whose blessèd Son was circumcised
in obedience to the law for our sake
and given the Name that is above every name:
give us grace faithfully to bear his Name,
to worship him in the freedom of the Spirit,
and to proclaim him as the Saviour of the world;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the book Numbers.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his offspring, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.'

This is the word of the Lord.         Numbers 6. 22-27

Responsorial Psalm

RO Lord our governor,
how exalted is your name in all the world!
Out of the mouths of infants and children
your majesty is praised above the heavens.
You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries,
to quell the enemy and the avenger. R

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses;
what are mortals, that you should be mindful of them?;
mere human beings, that you should seek them out?
You have made them little lower than the angels;
you adorn them with glory and honour. R

You give them mastery over the works of your hands;
and put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea. R         Psalm 8

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

This is the word of the Lord.         Galatians 4. 4-7

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

This is the gospel of Christ.         Luke 2. 15-21

Post Communion

Eternal God,
whose incarnate Son was given the name of Saviour:
grant that we who have shared
   in this sacrament of our salvation
may live out our years in the power
   of the name above all other names,
Jesus Christ our Lord.