Of the Father’s love begotten ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He, of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see, Evermore and evermore.
O that birth forever blessed, when the virgin, full of grace, by the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Saviour of our race, and the babe, the world’s redeemer, first revealed his sacred face, Evermore and evermore.
This is He whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord, whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word; now He shines, the long-expected; let creation praise its Lord, Evermore and evermore.
O ye heights of heaven, adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing; all dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King; let no tongue on earth be silent, every voice in concert ring, Evermore and evermore.
Christ, to Thee, with God, the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee, hymn and chant and high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be, honour, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory, Evermore and evermore.
(Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413; tr by JM Neale 1818-66)
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord… In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons
Shall I see with the eyes of faith today? Shall I choose to see through the edifice of human history and discern His story? Shall I choose with the prophets, shepherds and wise men, with Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, to see in this baby the breaking through of God’s purposes after centuries of waiting?
Lord, grant me the eyes of faith, to recognise the wonder and glory of that first Christmas, when you were born to Mary, when the divine robed himself in mortality and helplessness, and dwelt among us. Veiled in flesh, your glory muted to accomodate our sinfulness and spare us from being burnt up by your holiness; thus you remained on earth for a few short years, and in that time, accomplished deliverance for ever for all who ever lived who will accept it!
I will rejoice today in the ever living One, who was and is and is to come, and who yet entered time and took on flesh, becoming like us in order to save us from ourselves and from his great enemy. I will rejoice today in the wonder and majesty of the purposes of God, formed before time began and steadily worked out through all the countless choices of humankind down the years, until the day dawns when all is wound up and made new. I will rejoice that Christmas is not just a feast for the darkest time of the year, not just a party for the children, not just a comfortable tradition, but is truly good news, life-changing news, is true light against utter darkness, and will never be overcome.
Now, today, in my heart, the light shines and I join creation in praising my Lord. Long his coming was expected, and how long we have waited for his return! Today, in my heart, I cry, “Come, Emmanuel, and take us home! You are our Saviour and King, and your resting place will be among us, and will be glorious; we have waited long, Oh come soon.”