Saturday, 19 December 2015

O radix Jesse

After a lie-in, a late and lazy start to our day, just spending time together with Ann, eating, talking remembering. A prospective purchaser for Eddie's vintage Alvis arrived at lunchtime, but the start of negotiations was aborted as the car with its ancient magneto system, prone to winter damp, couldn't be started. The car started fine several weeks ago, and it lives in a locked garage, but this is not unusual with ancient cars. Altogether frustrating, as it means more preparation is needed for the next visit. Nothing is ever simple. Daughter Anneke and grandson Stefan arrive late this evening, so we needed to prepare the other spare bedroom for them. This led to a late afternoon expedition into festively decked Felixstowe to buy an air-bed for Stefan to sleep on.

We parked near what remains of Felixstowe's railway station -  just one platform serving the line to Ipswich now stands in splendid isolation flanked by car parks where once there were several rail tracks leading into an simple but elegant brick terminal building with several platforms and wrought iron canopies. Fortunately the architectural features of the old station have been conserved and integrated into a retail centre and Co-op supermarket, a nice piece of adaptation. I've walked the high street many times in the past, but this was the first time I've seen this, and it's been there thirty years.

Today's great 'O' antiphon is a reminder that the one sent by God to rescue his people was to be one of their own kind. The purpose of the evangelists in placing genealogies of Jesus early in two of the Gospels, even though they lack historicity in the modern sense, is to declare that he belongs and is no outsider, either to the Hebrew people, in Matthew's case, or the human race in Luke's. 

O root of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us and do not delay.

Jesse is the father of the Davidic clan, and a common ancestor to all those who look to Jerusalem and the hill country surrounding it, as the heartland of their faith and way of life. Because he 'who comes to be our judge'. as both the creeds and the ancient Te Deum hymn remind us, belongs in this specific way, that none of those who recognise him as one of their own can escape his scrutiny, his diagnosis of the aliments of their spiritual lives, their culture of faith. This gives even more significance to the rejection of his ministry and his deliberate killing to exclude him and the offer he brings from their lives. 

While Matthew's Gospel is addressed primarily to a Hebrew audience, from a Jew to the Jews, Luke's genealogy, like his Gospel, tracing Jesus' line back to Adam recognises this not as an 'ethnic' story but one that speaks of our common human condition, and the fatal impulse that can lead us to deny and reject that which is most beneficial for us. Do we recognise this when we appeal to God to come and sort out the messes we make of our lives, of our world? 

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