The scriptural reading from Isaiah today [Isaiah 11: 1-10] is instructive. We might ask: How is God speaking to me in this verse today? Isaiah, of course, speaks of a bud rising from the stump of Jesse blossoming into Jesus. If we look at this reading allegorically and paint a picture of stumps that have materialized in our own life only to be left in our wake we too might see signs of new life emerging from the rotting stumps left to decompose in the forest of our lives. We can view these stumps as traumas endured or sinfulness experienced. We are glad to leave them to decompose but a backward glance might surprise us as we realize that the mistakes and difficulties of yesterday have been used by the Holy Spirit to bring forth new life that pulsates in our very being. Too often we forget that we are on a journey that our loving Father intends to result in our safe return to Him when our pilgrimage here is done.
As Christians we intuitively know that our daily spiritual progress is of immense interest to the Father. We also know that, if God has come to live within us, we can expect that our failures and life’s difficulties will be used by the Divine Forester to re-orient us to the path less travelled. The new growth sprouting out of the decomposing stump is welcome evidence that we have found the path again.
In this season of Advent we look forward to again welcoming into our hearts Jesus: the shoot from the stump of Jesse. As we carefully observe new shoots emerging from the stumps of our own lives, we realize that God has brought vibrant new life out of our own dead stumps. That should fill us with joy as we await the celebration of the Incarnation.