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The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil. An octave is literal 8 days.  From the earliest time of the Church 8 is considered significant: 7 days of the creation, then on the 1st Day of the Week, the 8th day, the new creation:  Christ is risen!

The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: 

O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

 O Adonai (O Lord)

O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

O Clavis David (O Key of David)

O Oriens (O Rising Sun)

O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

 O Emmanuel.

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai,Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.  

Notably, the Great O Antiphons are the basis of the great Advent Hymn: O, Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

(The information above is cited from an article in Cyberbrethren)

December 17th:

O Sapientia:

Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).  St. Paul points out that, “… the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1: 25.  Jesus is the Wisdom of God.  He was weak to show forth the power of our salvation in every Word and Work He did and finally and fully in the weakness of the manger and Cross bearing our sin.    In Proverbs 8 and 9, Wisdom is personified as a woman:  

Wisdom has built her house;
   she has hewn her seven pillars.
2She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
   she has also set her table.
3She has sent out her young women to call
   from the highest places in the town,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
5“Come, eat of my bread
   and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6Leave your simple ways, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

She invites the simple to her table.  The Lord invites the simple to His Table to walk in His Way, the way of insight and live.

 

 Oh, come, Oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, 
Who ordered all things mightily; 
To us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

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The oil was there for the taking by all ten virgins, the bridal party. The 10 virgins symbolize the Church. Someone amply supplied the oil for the virgins to meet the Bridegroom who came at an hour no one suspected. The oil was given for that purpose. In that time, oil was used for three purposes

  • for lamps, as in today’s Gospel
  • for medicine, as we read that the Samaritan took care of the man robbed and beaten on the Jericho road by pouring wine and oil upon his  wounds
  • for the face to make it shine, as it is written, Psalm 104: 15 , the Lord gives to us,

“…wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

For lamps, the oil filled the lamps , medicine and the face,that is,  for light, healing and joy.  And oil was used f or special and unique purpose:  the anointing with oil marked the investiture of the Kings of Israel, as Samuel anointed Saul and David as the Kings of Israel.Oil was administered by anointing. Remember that the title “Christ” means “anointed one”.  Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew, Messiah. Behold, One is here who greater than the prophets!  We read in Hebrews 1: 9:

But of the Son (Note:  capital “S”)  he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

 The preacher in Hebrews is citing Psalm 45.  Psalm 45 is about the anointing of the King of Israel.  The kings of Israel were to be filled as lamps, with the oil of the Holy Spirit, so to heal the Lord’s people with His Word and to make the face shine with joy in the presence of the Lord.  But so many of the kings of Israel and Judah turned the hearts of Israel to false gods and immorality, personal and social and Israel went skipping into the utter and outer darkness. They did not serve the Lord but were dealers in falsehood.  Now, comes the King, “Of the Son”, who alone is the true King, who reigns “anointed” “with the oil of gladness beyond your companions”.  He was anointed beyond His companions, beyond the kings and prophets of Israel. As the prophets brought the Word of the Lord to Israel, so did Jesus Christ, but beyond, He is the Word made flesh.  He would be anointed by the spit of Roman soldiers, His sweat anointed His body as he was flogged and  as He bore the Cross, His tears were the anointing for the lost, His blood anointed His sacred head now wounded, with grief and shame bore down. He shed His blood not for His sins, for He had none, but ours and we are anointed in the Holy Spirit.  The bridegroom died for His bride, even when she spurned him: when no man heedeth, He interecedeth.

The wise virgins, when asked by the five foolish virgins, to give them some of there oil, could not. They would not have enough, the wise virgins responded. The noblest saint in Christ cannot believe for another person.  All the supposed saints’ merits, accrued in some sort of heavenly bank account, cannot substitute for your heart’s pain and sin to lay hold of Jesus Christ in faith in His grace toward you.  There is no substitute for the grace of God in Jesus, the anointed One.  He gives us faith to fill our lamps with the oil of His gladness, His salvation for sinners, His forgiveness, which all the saints carried with them, as the Lord bore them. When after the delay of the bridegroom coming at the hour no one could guess, at midnight, the wise virgins took extra oil with them.  They  were thinking in joy for the coming of the bridegroom.  He was delayed but they carried the oil that gave them light:  the Anointed One, Jesus Christ. He gives His grace amply for the taking.

 When the door is closed then, it is closed. As in the Great O Antiphon of Advent:

 O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;

you open and no one can shut;

you shut and no one can open:

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,

those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death

 When He comes, when the author comes on stage the play is over. The door was closed on the foolish virgins. So harsh! We might say.  It is darkness for those who trust in themselves for salvation. When the 5 wise virgins said go into town to find oil, I have to ask where would they find oil merchants at midnight?  Of  course, none!  And that’s the point. There is no substitute for the Lord’s mercy toward us, for there is no mercy in the devil, in sin and wickedness.  There are dealers in the darkness and of the darkness who promise false gospels of prosperity, fame which is no more than idolatry.  Amos said that  the day of the Lord is darkness not light for those who follow false gods, thinking they do not need the oil of gladness in the Lord. Israel trusted in the mere doing of sacrifice and worship in the Temple to gain salvation in some sort of eternal barter system.  Those who “…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” There is no second chances in some 1,000 years reign of Christ after a so-called rapture.  Here in this life unbelievers have a chance every minute of every day to look to the One who loved them and us all that He gave His life upon the Cross. Here in this life believers have a chance every minute of every day to look to the One who loved them and us all that He gave His life upon the Cross. So we can pray unceasingly.

 He taught this parable that we may  watch for His coming. He taught this parable that we be the wise Church, not the foolish church.  The foolish church puts human opinions, theologies and the like center.  The wise Church knows Who is the Center of the Church:  Jesus Christ.   He taught this parable for hope.   For in this hope we were saved (Romans 8: 24).  Hope is for us individually and together as His Body the Church.  Our Lord’s parable is not for some eternal stat that 50% will be saved, 50% damned, in some sort of non-Biblical double  predestination. He taught the parable of the virgins for us, His teaching is the Word of God, the Scriptures, “…which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ (2 Timothy 3: 15).  He taught the parable that we be wise for salvation in Him, carrying the oil of faith in His Word of promise to us all.  He taught this for hope in Him who soon after He taught this parable in the Temple would be cast out of Jerusalem to bear the hopelessness of death, yours and mine upon the Cross.  Paul wrote we Christians grieve but as those who have hope.  The hope is His salvation is for the soul and the body, that when He comes all the living and the dead, judged and saved in Him, will be caught up with Him as He leads us home, the new heavens and the new earth.

 God’s law will wake us up with its terror over sin and God’s Gospel made us alive in Christ.  Watchfulness for Christ Jesus  and the Gospel of  His death and resurrection is fourfold.  As the fourfold Gospel is confessed in the Smalcald articles of the Lutheran Confessions:

 We will now return to the Gospel, which not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin; for God is superabundantly rich [and liberal] in His grace [and goodness].

First, through the spoken Word by which the forgiveness of sins is preached [He commands to be preached] in the whole world; which is the peculiar office of the Gospel.

Secondly, through Baptism.

Thirdly, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Fourthly, through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc

The mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren is for us to encourage each other in the oil of His forgiveness.  We do mourn those who die but as those who have hope.  We need to hear this word of forgiveness from each other in conversation and consolation.  The fourfold means of the Gospel gives us the three fold gifts of the Gospel as signified by oil:  light, healing and joy. 

  1. God’s Word is light:  His Law a light unto our path that may know His way and as Jesus is the Way, the only  Way, we are led by Jesus the Anointed, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. 
  2. His Word is healing and the balm of healing for broken and contrite hearts, which O Lord, you will not despise. 
  3. His Word is the joy, of not only knowing the truth, but knowing He who knows us better than we do ourselves.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:  20-21

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Note:  Yesterday was the Commemoration of Jeremiah, but due to time constraints, I  did not finish this post then.-Pr. Schroeder

Biography:  

The prophet Jeremiah was active as God’s prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah ca. 627 to 582 B.C. As a prophet he predicted, witnessed, and lived through the Babylonian siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. In his preaching he often used symbols, such as an almond rod (Jer. 1:11-14), wine jars (13:12-14), and a potter at work (18:1-17). His entire prophetic ministry was a sermon, communicating through word and deed God’s anger toward his rebellious people. He suffered repeated rejection and persecution by his countrymen. As far as can be known, he died in Egypt, having been taken there forcibly. He is remembered and honored for fearlessly calling God’s people to repentance. (LCMS Commemoration Biographies)

Selected Verses from Jeremiah:

Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2: 12-13

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand in the gate of the Lord‘s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’

“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? Jeremiah 7:  1-10

 For whenever I speak, I cry out,
    I shout, “Violence and destruction!” Jeremiah 20:  8

“…they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

When Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern—the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate— Ebed-melech went from the king’s house and said to the king, “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern, and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes.12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13 Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. Jeremiah 38

Jeremiah was considered unpatriotic because in the midst of a battle against Judah he preached Judah’s destruction.  Jeremiah said to Judah you can not put your trust in the Temple and then commit immorality.  Jeremiah, among the written prophets (there were other prophets whose sermons were not written down by them, e. g. Nathan),  is unique in the sense that he lamented to the Lord of being maligned, mocked and derided (Jer 11:18-20; 12:1-6; 15:10-21, 17:14-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-13). Jeremiah is so noted for his cries  of “violence and destruction” that we have an English word, “jeremiad”:  “a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also :  a cautionary or angry harangue”.  In fact, Jeremiah has been called “the prophet of wrath” but as Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel wrote, Jeremiah lived in “an age of wrath“.

We too live in an age of wrath:  the slaughter of the generations in the womb, murder as play in video games, acceptance of sexual immorality, adoring the televised/internet image which all points to lawlessness, actually Lawlessness?

The LORD called Jeremiah to preach His Word and it was directed against the corruption of government and religion.  After the death of King Solomon, the LORD prophesied that Israel would be divided because of the sins of Rehoboam.  It was divided in 933BC.   It was in this time period the LORD called the prophets whose messages were written down becoming a major section in the Holy Bible.  In 722BC, the Assyrians captured the Northern Kingdom thus ending it.  The Southern Kingdom, Judah, centered in Jerusalem continued till the exile into Babylon in 587BC.  It seems that Judah thought they would not be destroyed because of God’s own promise to David that a royal Davidide would be on the throne forever in Jerusalem.  But Judah, as did the northern Kingdom, forgot God’s Word and specifically government and religion forgot the Word of the Lord and thought mechanically that just because they were Judeans, then the LORD would continually bless them…mechanically without faith and love. They went their own way. 

The Judeans thought their problems were political and especially in the threat of other countries.  This was not the root problem.  Their problem was God which Jeremiah abundantly made clear to them.  I would suspect that Americans think that our own country is forever.  It is not.  Again Abraham Heschel: “The problem is not the separation of church and state, but church and God.”  Christian church body after church body has sold out to the world, explicitly or implicitly.  The only jeremiads we hear are the ones we hurl at each other, we need to hear the LORD’s jeremiads toward us.  The LORD is against us and our sin, that is, His Law before He is for us, the Gospel. The true King is on the throne of David:  Jesus Christ.  He bore the Cross and it is His scepter.  He calls not to acceptance of sin but repentance.  He calls not to acceptance of the way things are, He calls to repentance to the way things will be and are in Him:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. St. Matthew 4: 17

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. St. Luke 15: 10

(He ) said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. St. Luke 24  

 Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jeremiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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