RELIGION: Do you welcome the unexpected?During the pre-Christmas season, the Christian community often uses the scriptural text beginning with Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
By: THE REV. SUZANNE BURRIS, Mitchell Congregational UCC
During the pre-Christmas season, the Christian community often uses the scriptural text beginning with Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
When I was younger, I always thought that reading was a foretelling of the coming of the Christ that we Christians believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. I still believe Jesus was that prophesied Branch on whom the Spirit rested, but a wounded gum tree taught me to broaden my understanding of that passage.
Several years ago, our family had a beautiful gum tree gracing our side yard. It was beautiful until a violent thunderstorm split it in half so it had to be cut down. There was only a stump left above ground but below ground, out of sight, there was life.
Every year within a 30-foot radius of that stump, the surviving underground roots sent up new little trees all around the yard. New life was always popping up in unexpected places only to be mowed down when we cut the grass.
Now, whenever I hear Isaiah 11:1, I think about those surprising, uncultivated shoots and wonder if this might be the way Christ’s Holy Spirit works in the world, moving out of sight and springing up in unexpected places to announce grace-filled possibilities for new life where there has been bareness before.
We don’t control where those new shoots will arise. They come from the tap root.
However, we do have the choice about what we will do with them. Do we mow them down because they present inconvenient intrusions into our lives, or do we welcome and nurture the advent of these surprising new possibilities arising from the tap root of the true life-giver?