Given such a title one might rightly wonder if this post concerns more violence and bloodshed in the world. However, the reference is first and foremost to the church's calendar. While the world takes time for its annual break to party and relax before gearing up for a new year, the church realistically recalls the need for a savior to a still dying world. The day after Christmas finds us at the funeral for Stephan, stoned for his brave confession of Christ. On the 28th we then remembered the horrible slaughter of those innocent victims of Herod's jealous wrath who tragically died in Bethlehem. Then, just as we are beginning a new year we talk once more about the "shedding of blood" in the circumcision of our Lord. The year ends in blood and begins again in blood. It might feel like a dark image with which to remember a festive time, but it reminds us the true necessity of the incarnation. "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven," the Creed intones. Christmas points to Good Friday from the very first moment. The name given Him sets the stage immediately: Jesus, "Yahweh saves," for "He will save His people from their sins." And then, at the tender age of only 8 days, He submits to the Law, beginning the process of being "obedient unto death." As the door posts in Egypt were marked with blood to spare them death from the passing angel, we mark the doors of our new year with the blood of the Lamb as well, that in this dying world we will know life and hope through Him who died for us and rose in victory, the first born of all who rise from the grave.
A blessed new year to all, a year soaked in the blood of the Savior!