News Sermons & Reflections

Merry Christmas!

Dec 23, 2022
When I was the Rector of Merrow near Guildford, my organist (who had a wicked sense of humour) used to refer to Advent as a ‘Maranathon!’  Maranatha is a word we associate with Advent because it is translated as ‘Come Lord!’  It is an example of Aramaic (a form of Arabic spoken by Jesus) and is often used as a ‘mantra’ – recited silently when we are meditating.  


As I write this – we are in a week of the ‘Great O’s’ which we hear in the Advent carol O Come, O Come Emmanuel which echoes the Maranatha prayer.  The lines of the hymn were inspired by the service of Evening prayer during which, in the 7 days before Christmas there is a ‘Great O’ antiphon or verse, recited before the Song of Mary – the Magnificat.  


In order, there are 7 O’s - O Wisdom, Lord and Ruler, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Sun, King of the Nations, Emmanuel.  Interestingly, ‘Rising Sun’ was recited on the Winter Solstice – when day time equals night time and gradually the daylight gets a bit longer.


The last ‘Great O’ - Emmanuel means ‘God is with us!’  This, for me, is a mantra I have more recently been reciting during my meditation time, because it speaks the truth that God is indeed with us at all times.  Maranatha, which I have used for a long time, suggests to me that the Lord’s presence depends on me calling him - but my experience is that He is always with us.  In fact He is closer to me than I am to myself.  So now I recite Emmanuel instead.


The greatest gift God gives to us is the present – Jesus.  That is why I love this quote by Richard Rohr:


May you have a real sense of the Lord’s Presence in you this Christmas – a real sense of Jesus, Emmanuel.  A real sense that God is with you – always.


With love and prayers, Canon Alan.