For many of us it may be difficult to get our heads around the fact we are living in the year Two Thousand and Twenty. For my generation 2020 is the stuff of which Sci-Fi movies used to be made. Some of us may have welcomed the New Year with a party. Others probably spent a quiet evening with family and friends. My wife and I usually celebrate sitting in front of the TV trying to stay awake to watch the countdown in Times Square. This year we enjoyed being up in the Grayson Highlands of Virginia, sitting in front of a wood burning stove, watching the fire and listening to music. This was one of the best New Years we’ve had in many years.
New Years is the traditional time for some folks who make resolutions on what we are going to leave behind, and change, hoping to do better in our lives. Within a month or so how many of us forget or decide to ignore a few, if not all, of these promises to ourselves? Our ironclad commitment to the gym mysteriously vanishes. Stepping on the scale to gauge pounds lost no longer seems important. Giving up sweets is a dim memory. Despite our possible lack of will power, the New Year is a time when we may look forward to new beginnings. It is a time, so soon after Christmas, when we may resolve to do all in our power to live according to God’s Word and Will for our life. It is a time to repent and re-commit to following Jesus by our thoughts, words and actions.
In our Luke 2: 21-35 text, it is the eighth day after the birth of their child and a time of new beginnings for Joseph, Mary and their baby. They have made the long journey to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill their parental duties under the law. Parents are expected to have their child named and their male child circumcised on the eighth day after birth, according to God’s command in our Genesis 17:9-14 reading. Circumcision is the mark of the covenant God made between him and his people symbolizing the child’s adoption as one of his chosen. It is the mark of identity and recognition of the child’s heritage. It is a reminder of the solemn obligation of the people to love God and love one’s neighbor embedded in the Law of God. For Mary and Joseph this is a time of rejoicing as much as parents today rejoice when their baby is baptized.