Listen to these words of Isaiah the prophet:
“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 counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth….
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them….
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;
the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.’”
A shoot from the stump of Jesse is a loaded image. Jesse was the father of David, the same David who killed Goliath and became the first great king of Israel to establish the dynasty that still existed in Isaiah’s day. When he suggests that a shoot will come from the stump, this sounds like a cynical view about the Davidic dynasty. It’s a stump. It is cut down and useless, seemingly at an end. I was thinking about the image of stumps, and it occurred to me that we call a political speech a “stump speech.” The dictionary says it stems from the 19th century practice of politicians standing on a stump to speak so people could hear, but I’m not so sure. The word “stump” can mean “to baffle” and to “stump around” is to walk clumsily. So beware of stump speeches. Now you can see that within Isaiah’s hope there is a bit of satire as well.
But Isaiah proclaims that our Messiah will arise from this stump! Where are the stumps in our lives today that, seemingly dead and needing to be destroyed, are hopes for our future? In the midst of this pandemic and polarized place we live, is there still any hope? That, my friends, is the ultimate question, faith folks have been asking during Advent for hundreds of years. Join us on Sunday as we worship together and let’s see where God will take us…
And as has been our pattern since the middle of March, we will continue to live-stream our worship on the church’s Facebook page and (download the video) to our website. So, join us for worship, virtually through the internet!
P.S. Pastor Gaye had to make a sudden, unplanned trip to assist her father, who was in a car crash. Her father is ok, and Gaye will be leading worship from NC this Sunday, while I will be preaching from our home in Manitou.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. T. Glenn Bosley-Mitchell