Isaiah 11:1-2 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 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.”
Quite a few people today probably don’t care that Jesus came from the stump of Jesse. However, some people care about stumps. George Kenny of Allyn, Washington, is an example. Kenny is an artist, but to see his work, you may want to put on a pair of hiking boots. That’s because his “brush” is a chainsaw and his canvases are tree stumps and trunks. Some time ago Kenny spent a day at Columbia Springs, a 100-acre environmental center in Vancouver, Washington. He’d been invited by the center’s executive director to make art of some of the stumps and trunks in the site’s forest. Using his chainsaw as a carving tool, Kenny spent the day making seven chunks of dead cedar into eagles, owls, herons, salmon and other figures, all of which remain on site in the woods. Figuratively, at least, the dead wood comes alive again. In the Isaiah text, there’s a dead tree stump as well, but the prophet tells us that God is going to do some awesome art with it … messianic art.
Isaiah’s message here is basically this: “Here’s our immediate hope,” and his words about the peaceable future were to say, “Here’s our ultimate hope.”
People today are not that different from the Hebrews of Isaiah’s day when it comes down to it.
Assyria is long gone, but terrorists abound.
The United States is not under a king, but its political system, with its overarching partisanship, can, at best, be described as gridlocked.
Few people these days see government as an effective apparatus for the common good.
Each day, there’s more bad news. Millions of people don’t even follow the news anymore, and many who do refuse to check the news before going to bed so their sleep is not disturbed.
Our hopes are raised periodically by the promises from new and rising political stars. But then our hopes are crushed by the reality that follows.
Like the ancient people of Judah, we can benefit from being reminded of the ultimate hope.
What we see in Scripture is an emerging picture of Jesus of Nazareth, our ultimate hope. And this hope gives a perspective from which to view the threats and worries of life. Isaiah’s words remind us that those things are never the last word. Our hope is anchored in Jesus, the living art from the stump of Jesse.
Let’s take that hope and use it to sustain ourselves when the threats and worries of life rage or stump us.
Together We Serve #2175
We seek to become a beacon of hope,
a lamp for the heart and a light for the feet.
We learn, year by year, to let love shine through
until we see Christ in each person we meet.
O Lord, your wounded world cries for healing where we can hold each other’s pain. Help us honor those whose loving spirit nurses hope, restores and heals. In our common search for wholeness may your love be shared again. Amen.
Pastor David Brosnan