A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11:1-3 (NRSVUE)
Each year, I look forward to returning to the familiar texts of Advent. These texts serve as a reminder of the journey so far and as an invitation to a new year and a new part of the path. Recently, I was describing how I think of our life of faith as a journey where we walk the same path again and again, but with each lap, we see new aspects of the path. Parts of the path are easier to traverse and other parts provide new challenges. Much like the stump, held fast by tree roots that have a long history of providing stability and nourishment, giving way to a new shoot, there is new growth that comes from well worn paths. We see new life from broken things that are mended.
My prayer this Advent is for the spirit of the Lord to rest on each of our leaders and communities. A spirit of wisdom, understanding, and discernment. A spirit of counsel, might, and courage. A spirit of knowledge and fear of the LORD that brings peace and joy rather than fear and shame. As the season inevitably becomes filled traditions and work, I pray that the well-worn paths lead you to new experiences of God’s Spirit at work in your life, at work in your congregations and communities, and at work in our world.
Today, I leave with you with a poem for your reflection on Isaiah 11:1-10.
Stump of Jesse
Slowly wasted. Left for dead. Hacked at the root. Broken.
The tree of Jesse wasted by wind and war.
Tiny green spring. Reflecting light. Hope.
Wisdom and understanding.
Counsel and might.
Knowledge and fear of the Lord rest upon it.
Unseeing eyes, unhearing ears judge with righteousness.
The poor, the meek receive their due.
The tiny spring a new world reveals.
Wolf and lamb, leopard and kid lie together.
A child leads the lion and the calf.
What is destructive no longer destroys.
What is arrogant bows.
What is irreverent bends toward the holy mountain.
All the earth is filled with the knowledge of God.
The root of Jesse made anew.
A signal for all the people.
Hope from brokenness.
Peace from destruction.
Life from death.
-Ally Lee (2016)