December 22, 2014 – Ancient Promise

December 22, 2014 – Ancient Promise
Jim Abrams

Isaiah 11:1-10

It’s 10:00AM, Monday morning, just three days before Christmas, and the church is full of the best dressed people in town. But it’s not what you think. You see, the casket is opened, draped in flowers, and set between two large evergreen wreaths. Is there anything worse than a funeral in December?  The end of life indelibly tied to the birth of Christ tends to cast a looming shadow upon the Christmas celebration.

Near the end of the service a young boy of eight or nine ascends the platform in his new, black suit and patent leather shoes.  He opens the book and begins to read confidently into the microphone while his eyes follow the index finger along the words of the ancient promise:

 A shoot will come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots...

At the conclusion of his reading I find the Light of the World is shining a little bit brighter and my hope in the completion of God’s redemptive plans has become a little braver.  My faith is strengthened by a nine year old boy who stepped into the place of death and boldly asserted the ancient promise I had known but seemed to have forgotten. The phrase echoes in my mind, “…and a little child shall lead them.
The hope expressed by the prophet is anchored in this ancient promise: that in the middle of chaos, darkness, conflict, frustration, violence, abuse, and pain; when all seems lost, gone, dead, and hopeless: a branch will sprout from the dead and rotting stump of Jesse and the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him.

Advent hope has secured itself to the restoration of all things good and right; just and holy.  So that when the Majestic Prince of Peace does come, he will establish everything the angel promised: "
on earth peace among those whom he favors!" (Luke 2:17).

The hope expressed by the prophet is in a God who will step into the creation and set the world right. Advent hope is secured to the sudden arrival of the Prince of Peace who comes to heal the sick, provide for the poor, comfort the devastated, free the captives, feed the hungry, recover the lost, judge the wicked, restore the broken, set the grieving to celebrate, shine light into the darkness and bring life to the dead places. What dead places in your life are you hoping God will step into today?

 O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. -Romans 15:13