The awe of advent comes every year if we will but ask for it and look to its coming. Why herald this homecoming? Because we ever need to return. Every generation has things long forgotten. Seeds that have fallen upon fallow. Remembrance is what breaks up the futile of earth’s soil and hurting hearts find fertile once more.
Advent’s light has ever lay upon things that are not as they should be. A shaky sphere is house to breaking hearts, relationships, bodies and dreams. Hope steadies that which spins and failing flesh takes hold, again. We return to Advent just as we revisit the sky for each sunrise and sunset. For they are not there to mark another day, but a new one.
Advent will embrace us, even when we feel helpless in our humanity. Maybe broken hearts can best receive a Messiah who meets them in the very middle of messy. Trembling hands may just be the ones with strength enough to alight flicker upon candle’s thread and send up a flare–in hope for humanity. Then comes the holy hum. The hymn, like sprouting seed, invades ache with anticipation.
Advent. His coming. Though the Word of God, Jesus, has ever been, He was not always here, with us. Can you imagine the days when everyone earthed longed for His coming? Ached for arrival? Some felt the pang of promise, even unknowing of Who would be ache’s answer. This longing remains in our days. The ache for His return. All don’t know yet upon Whom they wait, yet it lies innately within all of creation, to wait upon Him. Everything created wrestles with the raw and real desire to have God with us. Always and ever.
Advent laces that longing with our preparation for His presence. Every. Day. Advent does not come in one marvelous moment, but a myriad of moments in which we find the marrow of marvel.
Enter the Jesse Tree, strung with stories, day by day. The cord it carries is no small thing to weave. We are the needle of this narrative, and there is great risk in plunging deep and bravery in the backstitch required to secure the line of a King. Once tethered to truth, we will be asked to never forget.
Day 1 – December 1
Ornament – Stump and Shoot
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot, yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of understanding and the Awe of the Lord…. In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where He dwells will be a glorious place. Isaiah 11:1-2, 10
This stump is no kindling wood. For its sprout would bear cradle, cross and crown. The trunk of this tree would have etched ladder leading to love’s length.
What of the soil and sod that makes way for seed to sprout? It will be a glorious place!
I am overcome. The land where He dwells will be a glorious place. How easy it would be to look at the world around us and see it as less than glorious. Yet. Oh, there is always a promise-laden “yet” with Pappa. Yes, there is hope. Though it looks like the tree has been felled, there is a yet a root. In our day, in Jesse’s day. Those that know not what they do may have no more care than to cut it for a campfire. But there are those who will cradle covenant, take up crosses and carry the crown to each day’s coronation. Until all know, what He has done.
A few summers ago, stump and shoot became quite real to us. We have two trees we planted as a one flesh picture to ever render our hearts to remember. Two pear trees, incomplete without each other. But on a summer day, one of them was mowed down to the finest fragment. So low did it become, we had to search long to find it. But we did, firmly fastened within the earth. We planted again, this time with our prayers. And in a span short and slight, a shoot sprang forth from the stump. As days ensued, new shoots came, until the stump was full. Even when the stump bowed low, it was still a tree. Not severed, but secure!
Isaiah prophesied, a fallen tree at the hands of a forgetting people. A people with hearts asleep, turned from their God in slumber.
Yet. Isaiah spoke of awakening and resurrection. One that would begin with a seed, with a life. A life that would cause people to reach out, like a mighty branch from a resurgent tree. For the tiny, fragile branch would restore the tree long cut down, yet still full of life. For a seed doesn’t forget. Though the enemy is ever after the seed, he can never take what is in it. It lays still beneath, until the moment when it begins to pulsate, to remember, to reach for all it was created for.
For some years, I had the honor to dwell in this reaching, when delivering babies. With expectancy, we awaited the first breath, breathless ourselves. It came. And then the most amazing thing happened, every single time. The burst forth seed, stretched an arm forth, reaching, reaching. Reaching for what? There is nothing we could see before us in the room, that place. But the babes came, just as the root does. Ever reaching for the fulness of the promise. The destination of the destiny. Stretching ahead, so a people will follow. So a people will carry what has always been, into what was always meant to be. So where He dwells, within, will be a glorious place. Filled with glorious places!
Wonderful Counselor, Lion of Judah or another such name may be what you’d expect first, but this name Root, has come to mean so much to me, I needed to start with it.
Isaiah 11:10 speaks of Jesus as the “root” but did you know Jesus called Himself this in Revelation 22:16?
“I, Jesus, have sent my angels to testify these things to the churches. I Am the Root and The Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
A Hebrew word for root is ‘shoresh’ and translates to “base, depth, line, root and soles.”
Root speaks of life and permanence. When I call Him this, the truth goes deep in me that He never leaves and that when my flesh fails or the surplus of a season seems slain, He resurrects.
The meaning of “soles” reminds me of every place He treads and goes before me. He goes before, so I never fall behind.
Within sole is a portion, the heel, and this name, Root, keeps me tethered to the truth that His heel was bruised so I don’t even stub my toe!
He walks the line, so I know precisely where mine fall, in pleasant places.