New Year’s Day – 1st January 2017 The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus
Although the Gospel points to Christmas, I’ve decided, because I struggle with New Year’s Eve and can fear the future, to concentrate just on the Numbers reading and the blessing we can use for the start of this year.
Firstly, the context – (from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1096)
This text is located in the middle of a major section of Numbers (1:1-10:10). It describes Israel’s preparations for leaving Mt. Sinai (where the people have been camped for almost a year) and the continuation of its journey through the wilderness to the land of promise.
It also comes after the rules for the consecration to holiness for the Nazirites and what to do if there is an accidental breaking of this separation they are living eg if they do contact a dead person, how to regain this consecration. The Nazirites, men or women, were like the monks and nuns of our day. These people are so important when the Israelites are on the move. They carry within their own bodies the holiness or separation which God requires of the nation as a whole but which would be so difficult for each individual to carry out.
This blessing is designated for Israel’s time of departure from Sinai, and was to be used daily throughout their journey. This is a blessing for a journey! Hence this blessing is only for us if we are on the move. If we are stationary, stuck, unchanging, going nowhere – this blessing is for someone else not us. Where are we going? How are we changing? Both as a church and personally.
Secondly, the key words I will highlight and discuss
The Lord ‘keep you’ / The Lord ‘make his face to shine upon you’ / The Lord give you peace
- The Lord will keep you – I suggest this is about being secure – so important if we are on a journey. Perhaps I might quote: Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, 25 to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.
- I suggest this only happens if we are penitent – Isaiah 59
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
3. The Lord give you peace. So hard when we are journeying especially if we don’t quite know the way!