Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Day 1: The Rod of Jesse

Have you ever seen a tree stump? All bumpy and mangled in the ground? Once it was large, beautiful, strong and tall. Now, it is dead. The massive limbs gone. The crowning leaves now fallen forever and the juicy fruit that once brought nourishment is only a memory. The strong trunk reduced to nothing more than a bench. A place of rest in a weary time of trouble.

In the days of Isaiah, The beautiful kingdom had been divided. God’s people were split between capture and a kingdom of idolatry. Darkness was over the land and all they could do was to rest upon the memory of what had been. How did they get here? How did it all go so wrong? Perhaps they looked longingly at the days of David the King and wished for another who would build a kingdom under whose branches they could live in peace.

And then the LORD spoke through Isaiah and said,  

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.”

And then there was hope. In the darkness of their time. In the blackness of their situation, there was a spark.

Someone would come. Someone from Jesse’s line would save them. From the seemingly dead, cold stump, a shoot would spring up and bring new life to a hopeless people. Be of good cheer, oh Israel. Your Savior will come. Just keep the spark of hope alive.

Tomorrow we will go back to the beginning. Back to the first blast of light. Back to the first shadow of darkness. To tell the stories of God’s people. Their stories. Your story. God’s story.

But tonight. Just imagine. Imagine with them your dark places and your hopeless times. And remember the spark. Always remember that the light will come back. Light will always win.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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