Advent Riffs, Second Sunday: Change Is Coming

Flower and leaves growing from dead stump

Photo by Leonard J. Matthews, published under Creative Commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythoto/13916742430/

“On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” Isaiah 11:1

Even when all hope seems dead and gone, a spark of life is hidden in the stump. Life moves underground in the roots. Hope will blossom again, and with it, justice and righteousness and regard for truth and mercy for the downtrodden.

Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but change is coming. We have a promise and we have hope. We believe in new life. A shoot shall sprout. A bud shall blossom. From death, life rises again. In the depths of defeat and darkness, hope persists.

“The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD.” [Isaiah 11:2-3]

These are the marks of the promised one. These are also the goals we set for ourselves, the ideals for which we strive.

Wisdom.

Understanding

Counsel.

Strength.

We will not be defeated. We will believe, we will support one another, and we will change the politics of division and despair.  We will blossom, we will light up the darkest nights of winter, we will grow a springtime of hope.

“He shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.”

Imagine guiding our actions, our public policies by this standard. These are not empty promises of a someday savior, but calls to us to carry out the work of the Creator in our day and our time and our country and our world.

Everything that the prophet promises is also an invitation and a challenge. WE are called to be the hands and feet, the voices and listening ears, the compassion and heart of God here and now, for ourselves and all around us

“He shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.”

Today, our government is cutting food stamps, taking food out of the mouths of the poor, saying they are unworthy and do not deserve help. Do you see anything in the psalmist’s words about “deserving poor?” Do you see anything that says, “God will rescue the poor, but only if they have jobs for more than 20 hours a week? God will rescue the afflicted, but only if they have less than $2,250 in assets and yes, that includes the value of their second hand car?”

“He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.”

WE are called to speak truth to power, to speak justice to the oppressor, to condemn injustice and racism and the politics of fear and division.

Deny food stamps to the poor? Pollute the air and water? Mine and drill and chop down trees throughout the wilderness? Refuse refuge to the oppressed?

These are the sins of our day and time and country. These are the injustices we must condemn and end.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save. Psalm 72:12-13

In spite of presidents and politicians and powers-that-be, the dream that they have shot down is not dead. A shoot shall sprout from the stump. A bud shall blossom from the roots.

The call to justice is not a call to wait passively for divine intervention, but a call to take up the work of God now with our own hands. That is our call. That is our task. That is our challenge.

Yes, we can.

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