Wednesday, 23 December 2015

O Emmanuel

I went to St German's this morning to celebrate the midweek Eucharist for eight people. Afterwards I talked for an hour in the church hall with Hamid, about preparing for his baptism in the New Year. In order to do justice to this, in every sense, life-changing moment for him, I need to find the Urdu liturgical text of the service, so he can make his promises and hopefully teach me how to pronounce the baptismal formula in his mother tongue. Essential under the circumstances, I believe.

How frustrating to find another card from the postman when I got home, summoning us to collect a piece of mail and pay two pounds because it had insufficient postage. More time wasted in traffic queues to retrieve an un-stamped Christmas card. Accidents happen, and the Post Office makes you pay double, rather than the offender. The new streamlined service and its management sure know how to cultivate customer resentment and ill-will !

When I returned from this errand, I was dispatched to collect the Christmas turkey from Driscoll's, on Cathedral Road, our excellent local butcher. The shop was busy with customers, and I didn't mind queuing, as it was nice to see how cheerful the staff were as they went about their business. Likewise at the Fruit Bowl, the greengrocers shop a few doors up. We are surely blessed with local small shops in our part of town, and using them adds to the conviviality of the season far more than ploughing through crowds in the town's heaving shopping malls.

And so to our last great 'O' antiphon, naming the name Isaiah 7:14 gives to the Anointed One whom God sends us as our Saviour, quoted in Matthew 1:23, and translated in 1:24 as 'God is with us'.

O Emmanuel you are our king and judge,
the one whom the peoples await, and their Saviour.
O come and save us O Lord our God.

Each of the six previous antiphons add in different ways to a portrayal of God as 'All in All'. The seventh declares that the 'All in All' is with us in the One who is to come, entering human existence, born a helpless child, needing to receive everything from others to sustain his life, in order that he can give life to others, the priceless gift of salvation to eternal life. The elusive paradox, that is the very heart of God's loving initiative to those who wait.

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