Isaiah 11, 1-3
Something to read
The Peaceful Kingdom
A shoot shall come out from the stock 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.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
Winter is not the time of year in which we are accustomed to new things growing. Yet much grows during these chilly months in Britain – parsnips, leeks, broad beans, brussels sprouts, asparagus, to say nothing of the crocuses that peek their colourful petals above the light layers of snow on a wintry day.
The prophet writes of a shoot coming out from a stump. A stump is something we don't think of as having life, like the winter ground, and yet not only is there something growing out of it, but it means that a spirit of wisdom and understanding is springing forth!
When we think that we have no new ideas nor wisdom - or when we think that of our new communities – God invites us to have a closer look, for God's presence is in the unexpected places. You may just see a 'branch' of a new idea springing forth from your own head, or in the dreariest corner of your own neighbourhood!
Something to do
Look around you today and find something you had not noticed before. Try not to judge it as good or bad, but just as something that is there, existing in a space that may not have held it before.
Now… what new things are you being asked to bring into the world? It could be a new ear for a stranger, or a comforting new word for an old friend.
Something to pray
God, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, as is all Creation. That life grows in the coldness of winter betrays the handiwork of your Creation. Who am I to participate in such an awesome world? And yet your voice beckons me to new ideas and thoughts.
So many ideas come to my mind that it seems as if a forest sprouts up! So in the spirit of Jesus, whose model of love sets for me a pattern that is at the heart of all Creation, give me the sustaining strength to grow these branches to respond to the calling of your Spirit. Amen.
Ryan Sirmons is a pastor in the United Church of Christ in Annapolis, USA, who trained for the ministry at Westminster College, Cambridge.