Behold, the great Creator makes
Himself a house of clay,
a robe of virgin flesh He takes
which He will wear for aye.
Hark, hark, the wise eternal Word
like a weak infant cries!
In form of servant is the Lord,
and God in cradle lies.
This wonder all the world amazed,
it shook the starry frame;
squadrons of spirits stood and gazed,
then down in troops they came.
Glad shepherds ran to view this sight;
a choir of angels sings,
and eastern sages with delight
adore this King of kings.
Join then, all hearts that are not stone,
and all our voices prove,
to celebrate this holy One,
the God of peace and love.
Here we enter a new stage of Advent: having spent so much time on the Second Coming, now we look back, to remember the details of the Lord’s First Coming. Today we focus on the characters of Mary and Joseph, and hear of the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child Jesus, and the reaction of Joseph. This mystery springs from the House of David, and so we lead into the Gospel by hearing of the promise that the Messiah would come from that line. The link between the First Reading and the Gospel is quite explicit today, since Matthew actually quotes Isaiah. Joseph, descendant of King David, is invited to take his place in the great story of God’s relationship with the Chosen people. There is great sense of a timeless mystery reaching its focal point, as that which was “promised long ago” (Second Reading) now takes flesh in the womb of Mary.
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In many ways the readings this Sunday are simply a continuation of last week Isaiah gives us more details about the work of the Messiah, and Paul invites us to continue to be patient until the Lords Coming. What is slightly different is the voice of John the Baptist this week: last week in Matthew 3 he was proclaiming with utter confidence that someone is coming. Now, in Matthew 11, he asks Jesus from prison: Is it you? For us, as we listen to these scriptures, we are being offered something very particular the prophecies of Isaiah (and indeed the prophet John the Baptist) are pinned down firmly and securely in the person of Jesus, Son of Mary in fact, Jesus himself, in his reply to John says as much: I am the Messiah that Isaiah prophesied. Again we are invited to hold the images of the prophecies in our minds until Christmas, when we can look on the child in the manger and say We know who this is: it is the promised Messiah God who comes to save us!
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
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