Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

Posts Tagged "‘Come Emmanuel’ by Ann Lewin":

Ann Lewin, T S Eliot and Lancelot Andrewes on The Epiphany

AL 001

 It is a multi-layered story, as many of these birth narratives are, and three layers in particular draw our attention. First there is the nature of the visitors: Magi, astronomers from further EAst, led by a star to find a newly born king. They are often called Wise Men, but if we think about the nature of wisdom as the Bible describes it, that may not be the most suitable adjective to describe them. They were certainly clever, there is no doubt that they were well-versed in the study of the stars. But perhaps if they had been wiser they would have done a little research into the nature of the King this new-born child would replace….

There is nothing sentimental about our journey to make our offering. T S Eliot wrote memorably about the journey the Magi had ‘A cold coming we had of it‘, he began. He borrowed the words from a sermon preached by Lancelot Andrewes, one-time Dean of Westminster and Bishop of Chichester and Winchester, on Christmas Day 1622, in the presence of King James I. Andrewes said of the wise men:

A cold coming they had of it at this time of the year, just the worst time of the year to take a journey, and especially a long journey. The ways deep, the weather sharp, the days short, the sun farthest off, the very dead of winter. Venimus…. ‘we are come’…And these difficulties they overcome, of a wearisome, irksome, troublesome, dangerous, unseasonable journey, and all for this they came. And came it cheerfully, and quickly, as appeareth by the speed they made. It was but vidimus venimus, with them ‘they saw’ and ‘they came’ no sooner saw but they set out presently…they took all these pains, made all this haste that they might be here to worship Him with all the possible speed they could. Sorry for nothing so much as that they could not be there soon enough, with the very first, to do it even this day, the day of His birth…And we, what should we have done? Sure these men of the East will rise in judgement against the men of the West, that is with us, and their faith against ours in this point. With them it was but ‘vidimus venimus‘, with us it would have been but veniemus (we will come) at the most. Our fashion is to see and see again before we stir a foot, specially if it be to the worship of Christ. Come such a journey at such a time? No, but fairly have put it off to the spring of the year, till the days longer, and the ways fairer, and the weather warmer, till better travelling to Christ. Our Epiphany would sure have fallen in Easter week at the soonest.

Ann Lewin concludes her chapter:
“We are challenged by the Epiphany story to think about how willing we are to set out on the journey of offering ourselves to God.

What are the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh that we have as individuals or groups/churches to offer to God in loving our neighbours?

What obstacles do we have to overcome in order to make our offering?

Come freshly to us now, Lord God,
and as we offer you our lives,
renew in us your gifts….

O Sapientia: the First Antiphon: Ann Lewin


 Some of the words we are given to ponder during [Advent] are found in the Advent Antiphons, meditations on verses of Scripture that were sung in turn from at least the fourth century, before and after the Magnificat at Vespers, the monastic equivalent of Evensong, on the seven days leading up to Christmas. By the twelfth century, five of these had been put together into a Latin hymn, translated into English in the nineteenth century by John Mason Neale. They form the basis of the hymn O come, O come Emmanuel. The first of the Antiphons survives by name in modern Lectionaries, where 17 December is named O Sapientia.

O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

O Wisdom, coming forth from the Most High, filling of creation and reigning to the ends of the earth: come and teach us the way of truth.

Isaiah 1 1:2-3; Wisdom 7:24-28; Ecclesiasticus 1:1-20

…Wisdom isn’t a commodity, a package we can get off the shelf. It is described as a way, a disposition. It is also personified as a companion who influences us so profoundly that we become wise in our turn…Like many of God’s gifts, we receive it in part from other human beings. Some wisdom we inherit from the past, timeless wisdom that has stood the test, always true…

Other kinds of wisdom we realise have to be challenged. We sometimes talk about ‘received wisdom’, and when we do, we are usually expressing some doubt about what seemed to be true at one time, but doesn’t sit easily with our understanding now. For example, it used to be thought perfectly acceptable to enslave people. But then came people who challenged that concept, and established a wiser approach to treating people from other cultures and races.

We need to draw on the wisdom of previous generations, and apply it in the light of contemporary understanding of what it is to be human. That is what Jesus kept on doing. The Gospels record him telling stories that illustrated people’s lives and relationships. Sometimes he said,’Go and do the same’ (Luke 10.25-37). At other times, he said ‘Think, see what conclusions you draw’ (Matthew 6:26-34). At yet other times he said ‘that old idea won’t do. You have heard it said ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’, but I say to you ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:17-48).

…Biblical wisdom revolves around the idea that we need to live our lives in awareness of God, accountable to God, in a context of reverent worship. That comes about when we decide that our priority is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Jesus did that, and it showed in the way he paid attention to God in prayer and public worship, in the way he treated people with profound respect, and the way he recognised God’s faithful love in sustaining the whole creation.

That is not a bad description of how we too can begin to live in the fear of God, and grow in wisdom, as we live in growing awareness of God, rooting that awareness in prayer, which is the heartbeat of our relationship with God.

This extract is taken from ‘Come Emmanuel: Approaching Advent, living with Christmas‘ by Ann Lewin


We rely on donations to keep this website running.