The “O Antiphons” are ancient prayers of the church, in use since before the year 500 (they’re mentioned by a writer in the early 500s). These prayers are traditionally for the evening services of the seven days before Christmas Eve–December 17 to 23. We’ll use them for the mornings of the 18th to 24th instead… we rebel Protestants, we! 😉 The O Antiphons are prayers that address the messiah by titles that come out of the book of the prophet Isaiah. Each has scripture references, art, and even music that traditionally accompanied it. The song O Come O Come Emmanuel is a setting of the O Antiphons–we only have 3 verses in our hymnal, but there are actually 7, one for each night of the week before Christmas. We get closer and closer to God breaking into the world, and praying these prayers helps us come closer and closer to knowing the God who chooses to make himself known in the world again and again through the Body of Christ.
To learn more about the O Antiphons, check out this website that includes history and scripture.
So, each day for the next week, check in here for a reflection on the O Antiphon of the day.
O Wisdom, coming forth from the Most High, filling all creation and reigning to the ends of the earth; come and teach us the way of truth.
Come, Lord Jesus.
“The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2-3)
In the beginning, God spoke the world into being. The Word, the Logos (the logic, wisdom, speech) of God was there at the beginning. And in Proverbs 8, we learn that Wisdom danced before the Creator at the beginning, creating with the Maker, bringing joy and light and life. Many equate Wisdom as expressed in Proverbs 8 with the Holy Spirit, but there is also a tradition of equating Wisdom with the Word, who became flesh and the spirit of God was upon him.
Then, of course, we have 1 Corinthians 1.25: “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” We certainly see some foolishness in the Advent and Christmas story–for God to become flesh, and not just weak and vulnerable flesh, but a baby, born out of wedlock, in a dangerous society, outcast, refugee, hunted, poor; then to grow up to do incredibly foolish things, like challenge the empire, feed the hungry, heal the sick, preach to masses, say things like “blessed are the poor,” and end up dying the most shameful death imaginable…only to turn even death upside down, along with everything else. It’s a strange Wisdom indeed.
How do you experience Christ as God’s wisdom?