Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lectionary Notes

Two Notes on the Octave Day of Christmas
(New Year’s Day)

I
Whether the day is known as The Octave Day of Christmas and the Circumcision of Christ, Being New Year’s Day (as in the Book of Common Prayer), the Octave of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God (as in the current Roman rite), or The Naming of Jesus (as in the BAS), the same Gospel passage is read, Luke 2.15-21. I wonder if it might not be best to call it the Octave of Christmas and let the complex of themes that arise from the nativity gospel all have their place in our thoughts.
Apart from some questionable jokes and sophomoric suggestions about hymns appropriate to the feast of the Circumcision, it is a theme that should not be allowed to fade into obscurity. In For All the Saints Fr Reynolds suggests that the only reason St Luke mentioned the circumcision of Jesus was that “it fulfilled the last word of the Annunciation, when the angel told the Virgin Mary that the son she would bear should be named Jesus.” The statement in Galatians that the Son of God was “born of woman, born under the law” seems to me to warrant us giving more weight to the circumcision.
For the history of the feast on January 1 and its various names, see:
II
The first reading in the BAS, Numbers 6:22-27, is the “Aaronic Blessing”. This Priestly Blessing is still recited by the Kohanim (descendants of Aaron) during certain Jewish services. This blessing has found its way into popular culture. Mr Leonard Nimoy has said that in Star Trek he derived the hand gesture associated with the Vulcan phrase “Live long and prosper” from the gesture of the Kohanim while reciting this blessing. For further information on this bkessing and its use in current Jewish ritual, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaronic_blessing and
http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/387685/jewish/The-Priestly-Blessing.htm .
h
May God bless you all in the coming year.

1 comment:

Geoff said...

Have you read this hymn parody? Rather clever...