Learn more about the readings, music, and worship-service planning helps for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (New Year’s Day).
Season & Preparations
January 1 is titled “The Circumcision and Name of Jesus.” This is the eighth day of Jesus’ life, the day Jewish males are circumcised according to the Law of Moses. We can start by admitting that for some people in your congregation, circumcision might be a slightly awkward event to celebrate.
The Creative Worship artwork located on this week's planning sheet focuses on the second aspect of the day, the name of Jesus. The artwork uses an acronym with three Greek letters: IHS. You may have seen this combination of letters before and wondered what they mean. Creative Worship describes that artwork for today’s service as follows:
In ancient times, the first two letters and the last letter of a name were often used to abbreviate the name. Using the Greek spelling of the name of Jesus, the letters IHS became an abbreviation of His name, which means “Savior” or “Rescuer.”
We remain in the Christmas season with the color of white, though this will be the final worship service within the Christmas season. We turn in a few short days to the Feast of the Epiphany.
Readings & Theme
The Gospel today is only one verse, Luke 2:21, which states that Jesus was circumcised and called “Jesus,” which is what the angel had already named Him before He was even conceived. If you choose to focus on the name of Jesus, you will likely supplement with the Old Testament Reading. If you choose to focus on the circumcision of Jesus, you will likely supplement with the Epistle.
Creative Worship focuses on the naming of Jesus in the development of its theme. The Old Testament Reading, from Numbers 6, reflects this emphasis on names. Numbers 6 is where God gives the Benediction that we still use in our worship services to this day. Verse 27 records God saying, “So shall they put My name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
The Epistle focuses more on the circumcision of Jesus as it relates to the Law. Much of Galatians is Paul seeking to undo damage done by false teachers who led the Galatians to believe they had to follow Jewish Law in order to be Christians. The reading from Galatians 3:23–29 shows that the divisions between Jews and Gentiles (of which circumcision was a large part) are no longer valid since Christ has come. In Jesus, such divisions are undone.
Hymns & Music
There are two choices for the Hymn of the Day. One is “Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love” (LSB 900). This is one of several hymns that the name of Jesus is a theme of. You could also consider “At the Name of Jesus” (LSB 512), “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” (LSB 524), and “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (LSB 549).
The other option for the Hymn of the Day is “Now Greet the Swiftly Changing Year” (LSB 896), which draws attention to both the circumcision and naming of Jesus. Stanza 2 begins, “Remember now the Son of God And how He shed His infant blood.”
Another poignant hymn on the circumcision of Jesus is “O Blessed Day When First Was Poured,” which you will find in The Lutheran Hymnal, number 115. The text for stanza 1 is as follows:
O blessed day when first was poured
The blood of our redeeming Lord!
O blessed day when Christ began
His saving work for sinful man!
The entire hymn is truly a beautiful text. I’d recommend at least reading through it devotionally as you prepare, even if you choose not to use it.
Additional Resources for Worship & Study
Concordia Commentary: Luke 1:1–9:50 offers more insights into today’s Gospel. It may also be helpful to cross-reference these materials with additional study on the Epistle (check out Concordia Commentary: Galatians), which deals with Christ’s fulfilling of the Law in our stead.
Looking for additional information on planning for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus? Download our planning sheet to help you get started!
Quotation from Creative Worship copyright © 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Quotation from LSB 896 copyright © 1969 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Quotation from TLH 115 copyright © 1941 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.