Tuesday, December 17

O Come, O Come Emmanuel [9th century Latin]

O come, thou Wisdom from on high
Who orderest all things mightily:
to us the path of knowledge show;
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Starting today, the devotions will each focus on one of the "O Antiphons" which have been captured in the classic hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Each verse of the hymn is about one of the seven images of Christ.  An antiphon is a short text, often taken from scripture, which is used as a refrain in the liturgy to highlight a theme or aspect of the worship which might otherwise have been missed.  Since the 700s CE, the church has used the images of Christ as a source for antiphons from December 17 to 23.  As we approach Christmas Eve the "O Antiphons" help us to keep our focus on Christ.

When the Antiphons are in Latin, the first letters of the seven images of Christ —
Sapientia (Wisdom),
Adonai (Lord),
Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse),
Clavis David (Key of David),
Oriens (Radiant Dawn),
Rex Gentium (Ruler of the nations), and
Emmanuel (God with us)
—make up a backward acrostic, spelling ero cras:  "tomorrow I will [come]."

Today's image for Christ is Wisdom.  We live in a data-rich but foolish world.  Never before has there been such easy access to data about any of a million different things.  A quick search from your phone puts you in contact with many thousands of pages of information.  But while the information may be easily accessed, making sense of it is more difficult.  

Wisdom is rightly knowing one's place in the world, and developing the capacity to know/perceive things as they really are so that we act rightly.  While each generation can fairly easily pass on technical knowledge to the next, wisdom has to be gained by each person.  For many, wisdom comes only after a long life of experience, and yet just making it to an older age does not guarantee that one is wise.  There are plenty of old fools around.

The verse from the hymn includes the petition that, "… to us the path of knowledge show; and teach us in her ways to go."  Today, as we pray the O Antiphon about wisdom, let us choose to pursue knowledge.  May we be people who seek the truth, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, because Christ taught us that "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32).

Daily Collect:
You are wise, Lord.  When Pilate asked you if you were king you replied, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."  Help us, Lord, to hear your voice and to pursue the truth as a path to greater wisdom today and always.  Amen.

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Paul Lang