The Circumcision and Name of Jesus
In the Name of the Father and the +Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Be glad, you sons of Adam, your God has a Name. Do not be ashamed that you long for His Body, that a calendar page makes you reflective, that you regret the past and fear the future. These are the fruits of sin. If you were judged by your deeds you would have much to fear. That your heart desires to be united to the Christ, to be free of this world, to leave behind the desires of the flesh and not pay for your misdeeds, is a good thing. For without Christ there is no consolation. You cannot live, you cannot go on at all, without His visitation.
For the sake of your very life, you must come often to Him, to receive the strength of your salvation, lest, deprived of this heavenly food, you grow weak upon the way. Once while preaching to the people and healing their many ills, the most merciful Lord said: “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.’ Pray then that He deal with you the same as with them, that He provide. For He has left Himself in this Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful, to see them on their way. He is sweet refreshment for the soul, and he who eats Him worthily will share in His eternal glory.
It is indeed necessary for you, who fall and sin so often, who so quickly become lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame yourselves through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy reception of His Body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, you fall away from your holy purpose and the goal of your Baptism, lest you become absorbed and entrapped with your sin, lest the future judgment fall upon your unaware. For from the days of your youth, your senses have been prone to evil. They have ever misled you. Unless divine aid strengthens you, you will quickly fall deeper into yourself.
But your God has a Name. He gives Himself to you. His Holy Communion removes you from evil. It confirms the good work He has begun in you. It joins you to Him and moves you one step closer to the Promised Land. For your God came as a Man and has given you His Name. He is called Jesus, for He is your Joshua. He leads you not simply out of slavery and death, but into the Promised Land, into heaven. You cross the Jordan safely on dry ground and enter into a land you did not buy or earn. You reap where you did not sow, not because you are cruel, but because He is merciful. You are the beneficiaries, through and through, of another Man´s labor. He is Jesus, for He is the Lord who saves His people, who joined our race and faced death and Hell on our behalf, who met the demands for a ransom in Himself and by His suffering has emptied the accuser of all accusations against us.
But even beyond the profundity of the gift that is the Name “Jesus,’ is the gift that He has a Name at all. For by His Name you have access to Him. You call upon Him and He answers. He has a human Name, not just a verb of being, not just attributes. He has a name. Even as the prohibition against images of the Divine was lifted when God took on Flesh and obtained a face so that we could then imagine Him, and have paintings and statues and so forth, so also when He took on Flesh He granted to a more intimate access than men had before had to Him. You know God´s most personal Name. You have more given to you than His people had who knew Him in the Tabernacle or Temple by smoke and flame. He dwelt among us as a Man, in a tent made of skin, bruised and bloody and put to death and back to life again, and still He is a Man, still one of us. We cannot only imagine what He looks like, since He has a face, but we can know Him as a Man, with the name of Our ancestor in the faith, with a name we might even give to our own sons, a human name. For He is Joshua.
And that is the chief reason that we do not call Him YahWeh or Jehovah. You won´t find any collects of the Church addressed to YahWeh. That Name was given to the Hebrews in the time before His coming. You have a fuller and greater revelation. He is not simply the One-Who-Is, though He is that, but He is the One-Who-Is who saves His people, who wears our skin, who has revealed Himself now as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the God who is Love, and who puts that fullest of all names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, upon you for your eternal benefit.
Thus are you bold this night to eat His Body and drink His Blood, to call Him Lord Jesus as though He were your Friend and your Brother as well as your King and your God, for He is. You come then, while all the world parties to forget, you come to remember and to proclaim the death He died, to pray His Name and call its blessing down upon yourself. You come to Jesus, that you may prosper by His gift, and be delighted in the holy banquet He spreads before you, that you might turn the page this night with the promise that 2008 is His Year and Time. For all that you can or ought to desire is in Him. He is your salvation and redemption, your hope and strength, your honor and glory. He is Jesus.
Pastor David Petersen