O Emmanuel – An Advent Reflection for 23rd December

IMG_6227We have come to the end of our Advent journey through the great Antiphons used in these days running up to Christmas. And we end with the greatest of them all, with Emmanuel, God is with us. This is the one we pray to come: ‘O Emmanuel’.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour; Come and save us, O Lord our God. Cf Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:22-23)

It is Matthew’s gospel which spells this out for us. “He will be called Emmanuel, God is with us”.

Our decoration is a bauble, depicting the nativity scene – with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

This has been a difficult year for so many people and it may well still be hard. Emmanuel says that God is with us, we are not alone, we are not abandoned. God holds this, holds us, holds creation. Even a pandemic, with all its disruption, cannot break that hold.

The child in the manger, whom we celebrate at Christmas, is Emmanuel, God with us. Wherever you are, have a truly happy and blessed Christmas. May your tree remind you of the saving work of God in Jesus Christ and shine for you as a symbol of light and hope and peace.


O Emmanuel,

long expected and looked for,

be present among us.

In the darkness let your light shine,

bringing hope to the despairing,

encouragement to those in danger of losing heart,

and life to all who walk through the shadow of death.

Come to our salvation

Come, Lord Jesus.

As we prepare to celebrate

the glory of your coming among us in the child of Bethlehem,

so may we be found ready to meet him

when he comes in glory. Amen.

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, 23rd 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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