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O Come, Emmanuel

O Emmanuel…

God with us.

What we long for and need so badly.

And yet could anything be more shocking than the Incarnation?  The One  through whom all things were made suddenly needing to squall to be fed and changed?

We can tame this into a painting, lovely and safe, but there was nothing of safety about it then.  Nor is there now.   Do we dare consider playing with fire?  Once lit, there is no going back.  Not for the universe, not for us.  Like it or not, everything is different now: wild and purposeful, a flame appearing suddenly in that place where our eyes had been accustomed to darkness.  Will we look away or risk being set ablaze?

And when we say yes as Mary did so long ago, as we say yes as God did to us – does to us! – where will we be led?  In what stable will Christ become incarnate in our lives today? 



O come, o come, Emmanuel… Be born in us today.

People, look east!



1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.


2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.


3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.


4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today
Love, the star, is on the way.


5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.


an Advent prayer



An Advent Prayer   Richard Baxter (1691)

 Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a daily serious seeking after thee, and in a believing affectionate walking with thee; that, when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving our flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but longing and waiting for our glorious God for ever and ever. Amen.

Emptiness – Advent

What if the emptiness were one of
expectancy? Of hope and anticipation?
Of leaving room to be filled?

Not all emptiness is the same.
Wide open places of the heart
Bleak spaces, cold and desolate
Space for innumerable stars to shine in the night
Space between buildings in a blizzard
A crib, empty, waiting for an expected child
A crib, empty, after the slaughter of innocents

Which is this emptiness?
May I choose?
I do choose emptiness, after all.
An emptiness of the night sky just before
the stars appear
An emptiness like the inside of a flute
– the reed of God, Caryll calls Mary –
so too for me?

I will leave room.
I will wait.
The filling is not up to me.
It will come.

The night ahead catches its breath
then settles into a peaceful longing
which is in itself part of the hoped-for,
long-anticipated gift.