The Gospel reading for yesterday, commemorating the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, was Luke 2:21, the shortest text in the Lectionary. (See our recent post on the subject.) In the course of an excellent sermon that explored the depths of this one verse of the Bible, our pastor cited the significance of “the eighth day.”
God created the universe in six days and on the seventh, He rested. Then on the eighth day, the creation began to unfold. Jesus rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath; that is, the eighth day. Christians worship on Sunday, the eighth day, which is also the first day of a new week. With Christ’s resurrection on the eighth day, God has initiated a new creation. Those with faith in Christ are part of this new creation. Thus, very early, Baptismal fonts were made in the shape of an octagon, the eight sides symbolizing the eight days.According to the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12: 3), circumcisions–which in many ways parallel Baptism–were to be performed on the eighth day. Which brings us back to the topic of the Christchild’s circumcision.
So the eighth day signifies renewal and a new beginning. How appropriate that the eighth day of Christ’s birth commemorated in church calendar corresponds to New Year’s Day, a secular time of renewal and new beginning.
Of course, Christians, having been Baptized into Christ and having faith in Him, always live in the qualitatively different New Creation. Christians are people of the Eighth Day.
HT: Ned Moerbe
Illustration: Baptismal font in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Hillborough, Reculver parish, Kent. Photo by Nortonius (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons