Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.
Antiphon O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
(cf Isaiah 11.10, 45.14, 52.15; Romans 15.12)
Yearly the liturgy amazes — Hodie: today (not yesterday
nor centuries past) today
a child is born
who on a bleached hillside
under marvel of star
shivered in a cave
yet knew the mother-breast
ripe and abundant.
But time shapes sharp polarities
with empty bowl for symbol.
And we children of history are become
a magi of compassion
(for in whatever else we fail or blight
we keep the spacious heart)
and share the triple gift with everyman :
the love-loaf, the curve of arms
and the intimate caring
for the still uncradled child
coming young to death.
For in this mystery of oneness
out of Bethlehem (House of Bread)
today and everyday
this is the child who lifts his empty bowl
and weeps in Bangladesh.
Anglican Theological Review 57.3, Jul 1975, pp. 339-346.
we remember Mary and Joseph,
giving thanks for their faithfulness,
courage and obedience,
stepping out into the unknown
in the strength of your Spirit,
playing their part
in the fulfilment of your plan
to bring your prodigal people
We pray that their example
might be the pattern of our lives,
that when your gentle whisper
breaks through the clamour of this world
and into our small corner,
we might be ready to listen,
and having listened, to act.
A mola, a panel of reversed embroidery applied to a blouses worn by the women of the Cuna tribe from San Blas Islands off Panama. Molas are derived from an older cultural practice of body painting. After Spanish colonization and contact with missionaries, the Cuna started to transfer their traditional geometric designs to fabric, first by painting directly on the fabric and later by using the technique of reverse application.
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), by Healey Willan. Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Vancouver, dir. Rupert Lang
An older, Latin, version, sung by Schola Antiqua of Chicago
The nightmare of September 11th led some people to conclude that the real problem in the world was religious faith. Faith encourages believers to risk their lives and not to care for consequences—so it must be dangerous. …
But the truth is more complicated. … Only with … humility and trust can
we get beyond fear. The problem isn't belief in God. It is that so many of us, Christians, Jews, Muslims, here or in the USA or in the Holy Land, don't believe in God enough to make us humble and trustful.
Again and again in the Christmas story God’s messengers tell people, 'Don't be afraid'. The story tells us of a God who humbles himself and a peace that comes from God's loving acceptance of our humanity. Some kinds of religious faith may seem dangerous; but without faith, can we really hear and accept those words, 'Don't be afraid'?
This Christmas, try to face some of the fear, to bring it into the open. Ask what it is that would deal with the fear. Ask whether the words of the angels in the Christmas story are spoken to you. May Christmas bring you peace in heart and home.—Rowan Williams Christmas Message to the Church in Wales, 2001.
May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.