Today in the calendar we begin the final countdown to Christmas, a week before Christmas Eve. Advent changes gear and becomes much more focussed on the coming of Christ, so no more saints’ days for now. The days of this period from today are also linked to special songs or antiphons, of great antiquity, which are part of Evening Prayer. Today’s begins ‘O Wisdom….’, shown here, or in Latin ‘O Sapientia’. Wisdom has certainly been in short supply in some places this year.
For the last few days our brothers and sisters of the Jewish faith have been celebrating the feast of Hanukah, the ‘feast of lights’, which marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judas Maccabee, described in the Bible in 1 Maccabees chapter 4. My older daughter Martha has told me that shockingly this has been marked this year by serious outbreaks of antisemitism in different parts of the world – offensive tweets, vandalism, desecration of graves and so on. In times of crisis people often try to assuage their fears by seeking scapegoats and resorting to race hatred, and Jews have often been victims of this throughout history. Our gospel reading on 19 December is always the genealogy of Jesus which opens the most Jewish of the gospels, the gospel of Matthew, showing us how deeply Christianity is rooted in Judaism. Please pray at this time for the Jewish people, especially for those who are frightened at this time.
God bless and take care