29 November 2016
A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.
The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion feed together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.
That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.
Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
In this season of Advent, while we wait in anticipation for the good things that Christmas brings, I think back to the times of the olden days, in Jesus’ time, when such a thing had yet to materialize. I think back in particular, to Simeon, in the Gospel of Luke, who was a righteous and devout man. I think of what he might have experienced, the anticipation of a different kind, when the Holy Spirit told him that “he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26).
We will never know when that message was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. Who knows, he might have waited for years, and every day for him would have been like Advent. But what an anticipation it would have been, to see God’s salvation in the flesh! He recognized Jesus as the one who would be a light to the people and declared as such — “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:32).
There is so much promise contained in Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah, it is almost too overwhelming to hear. But for those who believed and heard the word, they must have been waiting anxiously as Simeon did, for the day that this promise would be fulfilled.
Fast forward to current times — is there something that we are waiting for this Advent? Are we looking forward in earnest for the day when Jesus will come again in all His glory? Are we anticipating the wonders that He will bring? There are so many distractions that can lead us astray from the true meaning of Advent. Things are so complicated now, what with presents and shopping, and Christmas parties to plan and attend. I would like to invite us all to take a step back, and simplify our thoughts to waiting for the one thing, the one event that mattered, and that is the birth of Christ, the ‘signal to the peoples’ that salvation is at hand.
The reason for the season remains present; while we partake in our merriment during this time, let us not forget who this reason is, for He is very much still the living reason.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, as we prepare ourselves this Advent, let us not forget that You are the reason for the season, and that is all that matters.
Thanksgiving: Lord, we give you thanks that we can celebrate You every year. We give you thanks for the blessings that you have given us throughout the year.