By: Cari DenHerder
Originally published: December 6, 2022
Begin with 2 minutes of silence
Isaiah 11:1-10 (NIV)
1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5Righteousness will be his belt and
faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
7The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.”
A stump generally brings to mind something dead, a living thing that isn’t growing anymore. But when I look at the stump in our backyard in the spring and summer, I see dozens of shoots growing out of it. At a closer look, the stump is an image of resilience and in turn hope for life coming out of what appears to be dead.
Our world feels very divided and the voices that seem to be the loudest use their words and rhetoric to fan the flames of divisiveness. There is so much loss all around us and it can be easy to get bogged down in discouragement when our focus stays on that. However, because of Jesus, we don’t have to stay there!
As the Branch that comes from the stump of Jesse, the one that the Spirit rests on, the one who will not judge with his eyes or ears, but with righteousness, Jesus brings true hope for peace. When it seems impossible for things to get better, I am challenged to look for those “shoots” that remind me that those voices don’t speak for everyone and that what appears to be dead is not hopeless after all. And when I consciously look for those people and things around me that remind me that Jesus is alive and active in our world, I find hope again.
Question for Reflection
Advent is a season that helps all of us turn our attention back to the wonder of Jesus as a shoot coming from the stump Jesse. What are some “shoots” you’ve seen recently that bring you hope?
Dear Lord, Thank you for Jesus, the one true hope of the world. Please help me keep my eyes fixed on him and show me ways I might help others do the same. Amen
End with 2 minutes of silence