Thought For The Week 8 December 2019
The theme for the second Sunday in Advent is Peace. Our lesson today is from Isaiah 11 which presents a staggering vision of peace which will be brought about by ‘a shoot from the stump of Jesse’. This in itself is a picture of gritty survival. Imagine a tree stump; the tree is all but gone and destroyed, and yet it is not dead as the sprouting twig testifies. Jesse was King David’s father so this is talking about the kingly lineage of the David which was all but destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC. In Matthew’s gospel we are told that Jesus is descended from David and therefore fits the prophecies of the Messiah coming from the royal line.
What is so striking about this vision of peace is its scope- it goes well beyond what we could hope for. Through Jesus, we can have peace. Firstly with God through the forgiveness of our sins which is made possible by the sacrificial death of Jesus. Secondly with one another. The same grace and forgiveness we receive can be extended to one another and in this way God builds us into a community expressing his peace. Thirdly, this vision even extends to the wider social and economic order beyond the Church. Using the animal kingdom as a metaphor we see the categories of weak and strong, predator and prey existing in peaceful harmony. Dare we hope for a world in which the poor and oppressed are given a fair go?
This vision is a reminder that its fulfillment is still a work in progress. The peace of God is available to all but we live between advents; when Jesus returns, he will reign as Prince of Peace. In the meantime, we are called to work together for a peaceful and just world.