O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (7)

If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (6)

Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (4)

For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied He sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (3)

We should think of the Eucharist not so much as Christmas—as if the Son were born again in bread—but think about it instead in terms of Advent. This table marks a triple Advent: It celebrates the past coming of the Lord; it is the coming of the Lord; and it looks ahead to the coming of the Lord. We commemorate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; we feed on Him by the Spirit; we proclaim the Lord’s death until He come.

When we view it as an Advent meal, we see that this Supper is about Jesus’ absence as well as His presence; it’s about the future as well as the present. It is a present feast, a feast we celebrate because the Lord has come. But it is not yet a full banquet, because the Lord is still to come. [1 Corinthians 11:26]

—Peter Leithart

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (2)

God of all wisdom,
our hearts yearn for the warmth of Your love,
and our minds search for the light of Your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Savior,
and strengthen us to grow in love,
that at the dawn of His coming
we may rejoice in His presence
and welcome the light of His truth.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ
Amen.

—Book of Common Prayer