22nd December 2019

Rising Shoot

“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.”
Isaiah 11:1-2 (NRSV)

That’s an amazing prophecy which is often read in churches during the Advent season. It’s a passage from a chorus of prophecies about the great king-deliverer who would save Israel. The writer of these words had probably seen first-hand the destruction of their country, maybe more than once. He knew what it meant to watch the sacred buildings and gathering places and the homes reduced to smoke and dirt. And perhaps that’s where he got this image from—the shoot that comes up from the stump; the green leaf of hope that rises out of the ashes.

Throughout the history of Israel, we see the nation cut down and destroyed by war or invaded by hostile cultures. Their quest for purity and peace was constantly derailed by temptation, compromise, and invasion. And yet the remnant remained. Over and over a small band of the faithful gathered, grew up out of the dust and flourished. It was a hope that just wouldn’t die, and God’s people who refused to disappear.

Perhaps that was on the minds of the people who named a small village not far from the Sea of Galilee. Maybe this scripture of hope rang in their ears as they named their gathering of families and rudimentary houses in the country. The branch that rose up, the Hebrew word for this branch of hope: ‘netzer’. Or as the town came to be called ‘Nazareth.’

The shoot of hope that emerged from the ruins of Israel one last time came from the unexpected village of Nazareth, Jesus the Nazarene—the hope that rose from the ashes for all of us.

Gracious Father, too often at this time, those celebrating focus on a babe in a manger. Help us to realise that that babe grew up and became the fulfilment of all the promises and predictions of the Old Testament, including dying for us. He is the prophesied Saviour, and our personal saviour too. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Presented by Greg Williams

About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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