It is a very human thing to “keep vigil.” We gather by candlelight after a disaster; to protest peacefully in places of power; to sit with one who is dying.
As Christians, in Advent, we gather with Mary, Joseph, and those who witnessed the birth, to watch for revealed Love. For that same star to lead us home.
Two resources on Advent Unwrapped draw on the tradition of vigil, as well as on the ancient practice of praying the “O Antiphons.” Each of these antiphons begins with the exclamation “O” and offers a different scriptural image for Jesus Christ; they are most familiar from the carol “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Contributed by the Rev. Andrew O’Neil, St. Paul’s United Church, Riverview, NB, there is a vigil to use at home and one for church:
Watching and Waiting: A Daily Ritual Based on the O Antiphons (pdf)
Set aside nightly family prayer time for this ritual the last week of Advent (December 17–23), or adapt it in another way.
Come, Jesus, Come: An Advent Vigil Based on the O Antiphons (pdf)
A church service suitable for an evening in Advent near the solstice.
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your revealed, compassionate care: come and show your people the way to salvation….
O Radiant Dawn, splendour of eternal light, sun of justice: arise, shine on those who dwell in the shadow of death….
O God of all, joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of humanity: Come and unite your people whom you fashioned in all the earth.
O Emmanuel, revealed hope and source of trust: come and set us free for your work and witness.