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12.15 Advent Devotional

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Still through the cloven skies they come,
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats
o’er all the weary world:
above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o’er its Babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.

Scripture - Isaiah 11:1-9

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.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6 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.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 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.

Devotion - "The best is yet to come"

I am drawn to the wealth of images in Isaiah 11:1-9.  It is a familiar passage that always fills me with hope.  Please read it and reflect on it.

 

Since I am not a bible scholar, I would like to offer my reactions to the imagery in this passage.  First is the stump with the shoot emerging.  A familiar sight in the woods.  Creation is stubborn.  Life is not easily extinguished!  Out of a tree's death comes a new tree.  How reassuring to all us mortals!  But this shoot is not like the prior tree.  It is referred to as "He" and has eyes and ears and it judges with righteousness and equity so it seems more like a person.  A person that embodies the spirit of the Lord.  What is the impact of this person on the world?  A series of images come next that paint a picture that answers this question.  "The wolf shall live with the lamb...".  Each image is from creation and pairs creatures that would normally be enemies or in a predator-prey relationship.  A leopard and a kid (baby goat).  An innocent, helpless child and a poisonous snake.  Normally one would attack the other.  But they do not.  It says "they will not hurt or destroy" each other.  Why is that?  What changed?  It says "for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord".  All that is necessary for the world and indeed all of creation to be at peace is to let the knowledge of the Lord spread "as waters cover the sea".  

 

There is hope!

 

I believe we are each created with spiritual gifts such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  I believe that God intends us to develop and use our gifts in the world.  Isaiah 11:1-9 gives me hope that as more of us consciously do that we can transform our current world into the more peaceful kingdom God desires and we so desperately need.

John Whisler

Waiting, performed by The Basses of the Chancel Choir; Gina Hayek, solo, composed by Joel Raney

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Many of us find that an intentional practice is important as part of our Advent reflections and you may want to consider this one. The Hunger Action Team suggests you set aside one food item or a small amount of money each day to stock the Food Pantry at North Raleigh Ministries. Click here for more information.