Today's Lectionary Text
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
Years ago, I spotted a tree at my parents’ house that made me look twice. From afar, it looked like a normal tree. As I got closer, it was clear that the main trunk had been damaged in a storm. What formed the outline of the tree reminded me of this passage: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”
Today’s text is one that includes imagery that is significant in our Christian Story. The heading in my Bible calls this section, “The Peaceful Kingdom.” The images are compelling, are they not? A stump that sprouts branches. Someone who judges not by what they see and hear, but with righteousness. Wolves and lambs, leopards and baby goats, calves and lions, all being led by a child! These images elicit concern, dismissal, danger and maybe even strike us as absurd.
And yet, they point to the heart of our longings that tap into the power of the Advent season. Somewhere deep in our soul, we know that the way things are is not the way that they’re supposed to be. Advent is the season of the church year in which we long for the light of Christ to enter our darkness. We celebrate through his (first) arrival as a baby born in the humblest of circumstances and yearn for his return once again through his Second Coming. Advent reminds us that what we see or think we know is not the whole story.
Stumps CAN sprout a shoot. Roots CAN grow a branch. Lions, lambs, leopards and goats CAN lie down together. And a little child can lead the way. In the Kingdom of God, what appears lost or broken or impossible proves to be the truest of the true things. Trees can come back to life after a storm. And thanks to the Good News of Jesus, we can, too. Come, Lord Jesus.
-Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford
Clergy Recruitment and Development
Prayer for Reflection
Come, Lord Jesus! As we celebrate your first coming through the form of a baby, may we eagerly await your return and be your hands and your feet bringing your Kingdom to Come as we wait. Amen. May it be so.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color