St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Thursday, December 23, 2021
The last “O” antiphon O Emmanuel, come!The final “O” Antiphon Emmanuel, come!
O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, the hope of the nations, and their Savior;
come and save us, O Lord our God.
Emmanuel : God is with us.
We affirm that where Jesus is, God is. We celebrate that in the Incarnation, the Lord God, our king and lawgiver, the hope of nations and their Savior came to dwell among us in Jesus. Christmas is the feast of the Incarnation: the coming in flesh-ness of God. It is sweet, because infants are, and the helplessness of God-in-flesh-appearing as a tiny, vulnerable human, is astounding. But it is also shocking. It celebrates an event not in the natural order of things. Everything changed. God will never be the same as God was before the Incarnation; humanity as lived by the Lord Christ has been taken up into God; and humanity will never be the same either; deity has come to dwell within our flesh and bones, as one of us. We can never say we are “only human” again. Jesus was fully human, gloriously human, as we are meant to be – and fully God – a mystery, and a realty.
And only this One can come and save us, from sin, from sorrow and death, from our hunger and thirst, and from expecting too little of God, and each other, and of ourselves. Only this one knows exactly what it is to weep, to laugh, to be betrayed, to be misunderstood, to suffer cold and hunger, thirst and fatigue, to enjoy friendship, to learn, to grow, and to become fully who he was. He is one of us. And he came once, and now comes daily, hourly, and finally forever, to save us. Emmanuel, come!
But why is this the last “O” antiphon? What about tomorrow?
Ah, good question! Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, has its own Antiphon before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer.
Ellie was asleep on her mother’s lap last Sunday when Anna Williams took this picture just after the Eucharist.
This little. This simple. This at-risk. This tender. This beautiful. This in need of care and mother’s milk. This is how God came. Just exactly like this.
O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us, Wisdom, come unspoken Name.
Come Root and Key and and King and Holy Flame.
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
to touch a dying world with new-made hands,
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.