Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Prophet of Advent: 2nd Tuesday-B

Read Isaiah 11:1-9

Chapter 10 of Isaiah ends with the ax chopping down the forests, leaving a field of stumps. Perhaps, as they heard this pronouncement, the people thought of the stump mentioned by the prophet back in chapter 6 (vs. 13), the stump representing failure, disaster, the reality that all has been lost.

We've all had such stumps littered through our lives, haven't we? Relationships that could not grow; downsizing/redundancy at work; neighbors who built high fences around us; promises that were broken before the words had a chance to be fully heard. We know the sense of loss, of despair, of hopelessness such stumps signify in our lives.

But as we discover over and over again, God cannot remain angry for too long. For in the midst of unbearable despair comes the odd word that God (once again!) is going to do something new.

For from this stump will come that first fragile, green shoot. Yes, it will bend in the winds of the world, but it will not break. Yes, it will struggle against all the terrors of our times, but it will succeed to produce: first one leaf, then another, and a third, a fourth, and so on. Yes, people will laugh and point, and claim that nothing can grow from that old stump. But eventually, in God's good time, it will be the shade where enemies can come out of the heat of anger and fear, and drink a glass of lemonade and begin to talk to one another.

This is how our God always operates. Taking the last and making them first, taking the least and making them the most valuable, taking the lost and carrying them in the divine Heart, taking the little and making them great in the kingdom.

God takes the stump of failure and fear in Judah and creates a new people.

God takes the stump of the cross and bursts forth with new life on Easter morning.

And God will take whatever stump is in your life and will bring forth that shoot of hope, of newness, of grace, of joy.


Dissuade us from trying to root out those stumps in our lives, Gardener of Creation, so that you can produce Advent hope, Christmas joy, Easter life, and Pentecostal passion in our hearts. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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