1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 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.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord...
A shoot from a stump. What a powerful image from the prophet Isaiah. A stump is a dead remnant from a once life-filled tree. A shoot is a small green sign of hope for a new plant, and for new life.
Christians read this prophetic passage as related to what Christ means for God's people. Beaten down by armies and in-fighting, God's people are often scattered, bordering on hopelessness throughout history. And then God acts, breathing new life and new hope into His people. To be a Christian is to recognize that God's saving acts are there for constant renewal in our relationship to our personal God.
As the leaves fall from the trees, and the world turns grey and dark in the month of December, the image of a dead stump can symbolize the hopelessness we often experience. May we know that new life is always on the horizon for those who recognize that the renewing power of God's life giving word is available each day, to all who simply cry out to God in prayer. Let us pray together today that the hope of Advent may heal the weakened places of our hearts.