O Christmas Stump
One can hardly imagine Christmas without the traditional symbol of the Christmas tree. However, in today’s first reading the prophet Isaiah gives us an even greater symbol for this time of year…the “Christmas stump.”
Isaiah prophesies that “a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of King David. David was of course the greatest king in the history of Israel. It was to David that God made the special promise that one of his heirs would always be seated on his throne ruling over God’s people. By the time of Isaiah, David’s family tree should have been, figuratively speaking, a huge and stately tree. So why a stump?
Sadly, God’s people quickly turned away from God and his promises. By the time of Isaiah, the dynasty of David had been destroyed through division and exile. It was no more than a stump. Yet, in the midst of this despair, Isaiah prophesies that the tree is not dead. In fact, a shoot will sprout from this stump of Jesse. This shoot is the coming messiah, the everlasting king to rule of God’s people forever just as he had promised.
Jesus is this shoot prophesied by Isaiah. Just as the people of Israel looked with hope for the coming of the messiah, so we too wait expectantly during this Advent for the coming of Jesus. Just as Isaiah prophesied hope in the midst of sadness, a shoot from an apparently dead stump, so we too must look to Jesus to be our hope in the midst of our own struggles and difficulties.
Today, the Church extends it’s branches to every corner of the world just as God promised David so long ago. We have our king Jesus, a descendant of David, ruling over all peoples everywhere. If our life seems to be more like a stump than a fruitful tree right now, Isaiah’s prophecy is our answer; Jesus is the answer. Have hope. From this stump will come a shoot.