Read: Isaiah 11:1-10
The Isaiah passage appointed for this week is one of great hope. It is the promise of something new springing from something dead. It is no mistake, brothers and sisters, that we celebrate the birth of the Christ in the middle of winter, when all the northern hemisphere is dead. Christ, the light, the green shoot from the deadness of this time, is doing something new.
This same sentiment is exactly why many churches cover their sanctuaries and crosses with flowers at Easter. After the dryness and deadness of Lent, after the death of the crucifixion, God’s promises that hold steady bring forth new life.
Theologian Karl Rahner speaks to the heart of the matter when he speaks of his own heart choosing joy, choosing to look for the green shoot from the dead stumps of this world in Advent waiting.
Ask not, doubt not. You have, my heart, already chosen the joy of Advent. As a force against your own uncertainty, bravely tell yourself, “It is the Advent of the great God.” Say this with faith and love, and then both the past of your life, which has become holy, and your life’s eternal, boundless future will draw together in the now of this world. For then into the heart comes the one who is Advent, the boundless future who is already in the process of coming, the Lord, who has already come into the time of the flesh to redeem it.
(from The Eternal Year)
Sometimes it seems like our past(s) are dead stumps on the journey of life. But the promise of Christ is that even those stumps, from even those dead places, new life and redemption can and will spring forth. Perhaps this is why, the farther away we get from those dead stumps of the past, the more we can look upon them with tenderness and forgiveness.
Questions for reflection: What places in my life need some fresh springs of Christ’s redemption? How might I reconcile myself with someone if our relationship has become a dead stump?