O Antiphons: O King . . . come and save man


December 22
O Rex Gentium (Isaiah 2:4; 9:5):
“O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.”


From the Rev. Mary Earle

I have a friend who creates clay pots. She has said, over the years, that her best work is “formed around the empty space inside the pot.” She has tried different kinds of clay, and discovered that always, always her hands take on the color and sheen of the clay she is working. Once she tried working with loza negra, the beautiful black clay of Oaxaca in Mexico, and to her delight found that her hands were one with the color of the clay.

In Genesis 2, we receive the scripture passage that speaks of God fashioning the human race from clay. There is an intimacy here—that knowing that comes from touch and embrace, from handling and stroking. Shocking, isn’t it? For we also proclaim that this Holy One who comes to dwell with us is our sovereign.

Imagine a sovereign squatting by a potter’s wheel. Imagine a royal personage with hands cased in clay. Imagine the sweat as the clay is worked, the concentration required, the happy surprise when something shows forth that is beautiful and unanticipated.

These waning days of Advent invite us to live in this strange, mysterious and eternal truth—the babe in the manger, Jesus, rules only with love. When we surrender ourselves to divine rule, we let go into what Thomas Merton called “mercy within mercy within mercy.” No coercion. No forcing. No manipulation. Christ’s royal presence, within that God-shaped space in our human clay, gently abides and dwells. Only when we awaken to that presence can each of us, and our respective nations, begin to respect the dignity of every human being and to choose life.

That space within us is of divine origin and design. Therein the Light of Christ abides, and from that Light shining in the darkness, the sacred darkness of the clay of our being, a peace beyond our asking or imagining will come forth.

O come, let us adore him.


The Rev. Mary Earle is a writer, educator, and retired priest. Reach her at mcearle48@gmail.com.

Photography by the Rev. Doug Earle. See more of Doug’s work at Www.DougEarlePhotography.com.


The well-known Advent hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel recalls the prophet Isaiah’s several descriptions of the coming Messiah. During the seventh and eighth centuries, these descriptions were compiled into antiphons and were recited before and after the Magnificat during Vespers or Evening Prayer for the seven evenings preceding Christmas.

We present these O Antiphons from December 17 to December 23 along with meditations from writers across the diocese and the photography of the Rev. Doug Earle.

For more about the O Antiphons click here.

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