I have all kinds of big ideas when it comes to this blog: posts half-written in adoration that never see the light of the internet, mp3s recorded on my phone of ideas that come to me on the road, series that I know will never come to fruition. I generally hold these things in my heart so that if they don’t come to pass, nobody knows but me. This time, I’m cluing y’all in first so that when I miss a post, you can all smirk knowingly.
Also, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to start posting on the O antiphons every day without telling you what I’m doing. So here’s the skinny:
From December 17-23, Christians are in a time of eager anticipation. The intentional expectancy becomes intense as we enter the octave before the birth of our Lord. We throw aside the normal prayers for particular prayers that show our hope, our trust, our longing for the Christ child. Each evening, the antiphon preceding the Magnificat in Evening Prayer proclaims one of the ancient titles of the Messiah, giving us the text of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and excellent fodder for meditation.
So my hope this week is to share with you my daily meditations on these antiphons. With all the hours I’m putting in with the babies, I can’t promise polished prose or pictures, but I’ll give you what’s in my heart and hope that’s enough.
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.
The God who is coming into our midst is the God of all creation, the wisdom of the Father by whom and through whom and for whom all things were made. And yet, with all his power, he chooses weakness for love of us. The God who could announce his presence with thunder and trumpets and booming words from heaven speaks instead in shepherds’ voices. This God who could force us to love him invites instead. He speaks tenderly to our hearts, beckoning, begging, but never compelling.
This is wisdom: the God of power and might becomes an infant. Because he couldn’t forbid suffering without impairing our freedom, he chose to suffer with us. St. Augustine reminds us, “God had one son on earth without sin but never one without suffering.” Too strong to be defeated by death, he was yet tender enough to die. Too strong to abandon us in our sin, he was yet tender enough to allow us to reject him. God in his wisdom is everything we need–just enough and never too much. He woos us as far as we will come and then mourns as we choose ourselves over him. In his wisdom he leaves us free, though we might prefer to be enslaved but happy rather than free in the misery of sin.
And when he shows us the way to salvation, he doesn’t call from afar or point the way through peril and misery. He walks with us, shoring us up by his strength and tenderly wiping away our weary tears. He asks of us nothing that he hasn’t himself done or suffered or been subjected to. When we are hurt, we find his pierced hands lifting us up. When we are rejected, his pierced brow speaks of his betrayal. When we are lonely, we hear the echo of “My God, my God.”
This is the wisdom of the incarnation: the foolishness of the Cross. This is what we long for in Advent: not merely the coming of the Christ child in the liturgy but the coming into our hearts of him who breaks down the walls we’ve built and gently smooths our rough edges.
What tender strength. What wisdom. Come, Lord Jesus.
O, come, O Wisdom from on high,
Who orders all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!