Friday 23 December

Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.

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)

Readings (Click the links to see the readings)

Malachi 3.1-4 and 4.2-3 | Psalm 25.4-10 | Luke 1.57-66 |

Upon Christ's Nativity, or Christmas
Rowland Watkyns (ca. 1614-1664)

From three dark places Christ came forth this day;
From first His Father's bosom, where He lay,
Concealed till now; then from the typic law,
Where we His manhood but by figures saw;
And lastly from His mother's womb He came
To us, a perfect God and perfect Man.
    Now in a manger lies the eternal Word:
The Word He is, yet can no speech afford;
He is the Bread of Life, yet hungry lies;
The Living Fountain, yet for drink He cries;
He cannot help or clothe Himself at need
Who did the lilies clothe and ravens feed;
He is the Light of Lights, yet now doth shroud
His glory with our nature as a cloud.
He came to us a Little One, that we
Like little children might in malice be;
Little He is, and wrapped in clouts, lest He
Might strike us dead if clothed with majesty.
    Christ had four beds and those not soft nor brave:
The Virgin's womb, the manger, cross, and grave.
The angels sing this day, and so will I
That have more reason to be glad than they.


Give us, O God, such love and wonder that, with the shepherds and pilgrims unknown, we may come to adore the holy Child, the promised King, and with our gifts worship him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


One of the main things that Christmas means to me is that God actually likes the company of human beings. God starts living a human life in the middle of the world when the life of Jesus begins, and that suggests that, as the Bible says, God actually loves the world—he likes to be with us, he likes us to be with him.

And what flows from that for Christians, is the sense that human beings are just colossally worthwhile. God thought they were worth spending a lifetime with, and all that spills over into how we see all kinds of human beings; the ones we don't like or the ones we don't reckon very much, the ones we don't take very seriously. But they are all to be taken very seriously, they are all to be loved.

And so Christmas, as I see it, is the very beginning of that sense of huge human dignity in all the people around us—and that's what I think we are celebrating. That is the most important thing.—
—Rowan Williams, BBC Radio, 12 December 2007.

Since 1988 the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has been steadily eliminating this crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, relying on vaccination of every child until the disease disappears. The work has been effective, but final eradication of polio is hindered by unrest in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the only countries where wild poliovirus cases continue to occur.

Zanobi Strozzi, Florence, Adorazione del Bambino, c. 1460. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Arvo Pärt. Magnificat Antiphonen: no. 7: O Emmanuel. South Dakota Chorale, cond. Brian A. Schmidt.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.

Prayers used in this 2016 Advent Calendar are © John Birch, 2016, at and used with permission under a Creative Commons Licence.
St Philip's Anglican Church, corner Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602