O Key of David – An Advent Reflection for 20th December

IMG_6221I have a confession to make today, or perhaps I need to give credit where it is due. The idea for this series of reflections came from the Cathedral’s Keys campaign. I saw these and thought, there’s a visual aid there – ‘O Key of David’, I thought, today’s antiphon. And of course my mind quickly went on to wonder what would could be used as a symbol for the other antiphons, which I am exploring in these videos in these final days of Advent running up to Christmas.

Today, on 20th December, we are thinking about a key.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. (cf Isaiah 22:22, 42:7)

Keys unlock and they lock. They open the way and they close it off. Today we think of Jesus as the one who opens for us the gate to God and to his presence, the gate to heaven and the eternal. With this we place our desires and our motives – the agency we employ to make things happen and open doors.

Here’s a challenge, how do we help others find liberation, freedom and open for them the way that leads to faith in Christ? Are we a sign of an open door, or are we in effect barring that door preventing them from coming in? It’s a challenge. But each of us who follow the way of Jesus Christ has a place to open the way for others.

But the principle door opener is Christ himself, who out of love removes the barriers between the mystery and awesome wonder of God and ourselves. Jesus is the key of David. May he unlock our hearts that the way to his eternal life may be an open door for us.

So with a key, as we hang it on our tree, we open doors, welcome in and go out to live and serve in Christ’s name because he opens the door for us.


O Key of David,

unlock the door to our hearts.

Shine your light into the depths of our secret places.

Transform our motives and desires,

our plans and striving

for the glory of your Kingdom.

Come to our salvation

Come, Lord Jesus.

Advent Antiphons from ‘Common Worship: Daily Prayer’ is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005.

 Prayers taken from Ian Black ‘Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days’ (2005, SPCK)

Text of an Advent Reflection, streamed online for Peterborough Parish Church, 20th December 2020.

About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough and Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral in the Church of England Diocese of Peterborough. He served as Rural Dean of Peterborough for 5 years. Prior to moving to Peterborough, Ian was in Leeds for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and is a former head chorister at Shakespeare's Church - Holy Trinity. He studied in Canterbury, Lincoln Theological College and has a Master of Divinity degree from Nottingham University. He is married with two sons. Publications include three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His most recent book, 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus', was published by Sacristy Press in 2017. There is a hymn based on this 'Christ the Saviour'. He has been writing online since the mid 1990s. Ian is a keen photographer and these frequently appear in his posts and on social media.
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