New Life Springs Forth!
Reflecting on the Third Sunday of Advent: One Day After Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Isaiah 11:1-9
Old Testament: Numbers 16:1-19
Epistle: Hebrews 13:7-17
O God of the exiles and the lost, you promise restoration and wholeness through the power of Jesus Christ. Give us faith to live joyfully, sustained by your promises as we eagerly await the day when they will be fulfilled for all the world to see, through the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This past September, Carol and I spent the day on our country acre trimming trees. We had a lilac tree that desperately needed to be pruned, so I set about to do just that. When I was finished, the tree was definitely in better shape, but didn’t look that way. The pruned branches stuck out from the bottom like a sore thumb.
But over the next few weeks, something expected did happen. New branches with leaves started emerging from the cut, the injured wood. It wasn’t too long before that tree started to look majestic again with the new greenery surrounding what had been a barren foundation. New life had emerged from the injured stumps.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
Whatever the crisis that Israel faces, the prophet declares that just as greenery emerges from a cut branch, just as new life will spring forth from the charred remains of a forest, and just as exile will prepare God’s people for a new day of restoration, so the promise of life after death is something God will bring about in due time.
The first verse of my favorite Advent hymn poetically entreats the Messiah,
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Out of the ashes of sin, destruction, suffering, and death deliverance will come. The God of All Creation, the God of Israel, the God of Exiles can make a way when there seems to be no way. When all hope seems to be lost, Emmanuel, God With Us, comes to a world living in the exile of disobedience in order to reconcile us to our Maker.
From creation to new creation, God is in the business of life. We can rest assured that in Jesus Christ, it will indeed spring forth!
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