I like choosing gifts to give to my wife at Christmas. There is the ritual of choosing the gifts themselves - what to choose? so many gifts that I would like to give: and to choose this, and that, is to have to let go of the possibility of giving these other things – and the ritual of wrapping them – I’m not a natural wrapper; it is a small labour of love.
And then there is the wondering: will she like what I have chosen? would she have preferred the thing I passed by?
God made his choice of gift, long ago, and hid it in the present-drawer of heaven. And when the time came to give the gift, he wrapped it once in flesh and blood, then wrapped it again in flesh and blood, and gave it...and wondered: how will they receive what I have given?
Some received the gift with wonder; others reluctantly, at first, but growing to understand its true worth; still others didn’t even notice it; and some rejected it, forcefully, ungratefully.
The final Advent antiphon is ‘O Emmanuel’ or ‘God-with-us.’ The greatest gift of all, both longed-for and needed, and yet not obviously either of those things.
As we wrap our gifts, we might make room for Jesus by praying for the loved-one we wrap for...
O Emmanuel, our King and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
Advent: making room for Jesus – in the wrapping of gifts.
O Rex Gentium
O Clavis David
O Radix Jesse
Advent is about looking backwards, in order to look forward. The Advent Antiphons are not accidental worship, but crafted, looking backwards in order to look forwards. Taking the first letter of each Antiphon, and reading backwards, we spell out ERO CRAS, or ‘Tomorrow, I come...’
As we make room for Jesus throughout Advent, Jesus prepares to come to us, to inhabit our lives, to live in the room we have made for him. Tomorrow, he comes.