O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the peoples, at whom kings shall shut their mouths,
to whom the Gentiles shall seek: come and deliver us, and tarry not.
Divine Worship: The Missal
‘Advent... draws us into a deeper and richer understanding of the fact that the Church is present everywhere, in every single action that she performs... Nowhere is this more forcefully expressed than in the famous Devotion XVII which John Donne, a seventeenth-century Dean of St Paul’s, wrote in a set of meditations during a period of serious illness in 1623, and which were published the year after. Illness - especially when it is potentially life-threatening - has a habit of underscoring what is important and identifying what is secondary. Life is never the same afterwards.
“Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The Church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptises a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another”.
To watch and wait for the “Root of Jesse” is another exercise in patience - not least a patience that enlarges our sympathies and our awareness of just how deeply we are united together by our actions and our prayers, our circumstances and our struggles’.
from Watching and Waiting: A Guide to the Celebration of Advent, 2007
by Kenneth Stevenson (1949-2011), Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth, 1995-2009
Fr Lee Kenyon