Light one candle…begin your prayer time by lighting the first purple candle on your wreath. The “Hope” Candle.
READ: Isaish 11: 1-10
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
Such imagination. This passage in Isaiah is dripping with imagery and imagination, but hope will do that to a person. It begins by acknowledging the reality of fear for the people from the Assyrian armies. Instability. Uncertainty. What can stand to provide hope in such times? New life. Growth. Only God can stand against such enemies.
Rest, wisdom, council, understanding, knowledge…these are the gifts that stand against an enemy who oppresses and controls.
A vision of a branch, a shoot from Jesse that will bring these gifts of the Spirit.
I have often heard creatives confess their work is more powerful when they are depressed or hurting. Their work is more raw or real. It speaks more clearly to others. At various times in our lives we can find ourselves feeling pressured by the enemies of work, unhealthy relationships, financial struggles or disease.
During those times, it often feels easier to bury ourselves in our studios or sewing rooms. To disconnect from others because it is safer. It is easier to disconnect than to have realistic expectations of others…of ourselves.
Maybe we turn out “better art,” but not better relationships.
During this season of Advent, we hope for what has come and for what is yet to come. A Messiah who saves. A Messiah who understands. A Messiah who doesn’t bend to the enemies, but rather, sprouts new growth, new branches, new fruit. A Messiah who calls the enemies and us to peace – within ourselves and with others. The beautiful and careless imagery at the end of this passage…lambs and wolves, leopards and goats, calves and lions, eating together, living together…we wait for this…we hope for this…the time when God will bring us together…when our brokenness is repaired. When relationships are grounded fully in the stability and knowledge and peace that God’s got us. All of us.
God of new growth. God of new relationships. God of peace, hear our cries of frustration and pain. Hear our shouts of joy. Strengthen us in our daily lives to recognize the new growth, the new fruit in ourselves and others. Draw us closer to you and to one another. Free us to experience the rest and peace that only you can provide. In the name of your son, our Messiah. Amen
Draw or sketch or sew or paint or (you get the picture)…an empty tree. Branches. Around the tree write words that represent the people or things or activities in your life that bring a sense of peace and healing.
About Mitzie…Mitzie Schafer is a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master of Art in Religion from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a concentration in Christian Education and Christian Spirituality. She has been writing curriculum and teaching faith formation for more than ten years. Mitzie’s faith is grounded in the belief that God is the initiator and we are the respondent. That God’s yes is always bigger than our no. That being created in the image of the Creator, makes us by our very nature, creative. And that God LOVES ALL people.
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