Blogging Towards Sunday, December 5, 2010
The Isaiah passages in the readings proposed for this Second Sunday in Advent grab me. Filled with word pictures, I find my mind's eye inundated with possibilities, stimuli and connections. The Stump of Jesse is contrasted with the wind of the Spirit. This stump, symbol of the ancient royal line of David (Jesse was his father) is stumped, dead, finished after the Babylonian and Assyrian invasions of the 6th and 8th centuries BCE. The once great line of wise God-fearing rulers is gone. But a new leader is coming, blown by the wind, filled with the spirit, called to be a great leader who will rule with justice in particular in regards to the meek and the poor as opposed to rule in a partisan way blowing with the winds of propaganda, gain and public-opinion. The stump is immobile, unwilling and unable to change, to adapt, to grow. The Spirit, or wind (in Hebrew and Greek it's the same word) is fluid, active, transformative, inviting, moving all those that it comes into contact with. And so this first half of this passage (1-5) is dominated with these two images: Stump & Wind.
The second half, verse 6-10 paint a picture of the future emerging from and by this Spirit, or wind of change. Portrayed with word-pairs such as wolf-lamb, leopard-kid, lion-ox, it's an idyllic vision of the best of all possible worlds and places. In the description a little child is mentioned 3 times. As Christians, we interpret that as a prophetic word pointing to the Christ Child we discern in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. He came, issued from that stump, that family line, but filled with the Spirit, impacting all those that encountered him, transforming not just those that followed him, but also those that resisted him and those that would come 2,000 years later....us.
Where in life are we stumps, unmovable, stuck, unwilling to change, unable to envision a different future, incapable of tomorrow? Where in our lives, our work, our relationships, where in our communities of faith, in our cities, in our shared world are we resistant to the wind of change that the Spirit of God brings? Not change for changes sake. Not change for religious or institutional power. Transformation for life. New life. Abundant. Free. Life-giving. Life-sustaining. Life-transforming.