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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 11:1–9

A shoot shall come out from the stump 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;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
   and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
   and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
   and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
   the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
   and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
   their young shall lie down together;
   and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
   and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
   on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
   as the waters cover the sea. (NRSV)

In this world full of harm and destruction, it’s easy to lose hope. News stories about abuses of power make us feel cynical. Reports about domestic violence make us feel numb. Coverage about natural disasters makes us feel fatalistic. Everywhere we turn, on street corners or in grocery store parking lots, there are people asking for help. Too often these pleas are met with indifference and derision.

In this scripture, Isaiah reminds us that God has a different vision for our world. In God’s vision the weak and the strong coexist, everyone is safe, and everyone thrives.

How are we ever going to get to this world? Isaiah says, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse.” So how does this shoot start? I think it begins with our faith. Our faith in God’s promise helps us ward off cynicism. Our faith in God’s love gives us hope that the cycle of violence can be broken. Our faith inspires us to take action. When we act to support God’s vision, we help to tip the world toward this better day. Through our faith and our acts we are the new shoot coming up from the stump.

Gracious Father, help me to be the shoot from Jesse’s stump. Fill me with hope, with peace, with joy and love. Give me strength to carry Christ’s light into the world. Amen.

Written by Sarah Younger, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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