Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Friday, December 2
By Laura Still
Read: Isaiah 11:1-2
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a branch will bear fruit.”
The word stump can be jarring—it has a quality of sounding short and hard, something cut off and useless. Describing anything as stumpy is not usually meant to be flattering. But stumps are considered tough, and anyone who has ever had to dig up even a small one will agree. They might look dried out and dead, but the attached roots often go deep and spread out wider than the canopy of the tree before it was cut. Maybe those stumps aren’t quite extinct after all.
As a kid I only thought of stumps as a handy place to sit and rest when playing outside, or use as a table for an imaginary meal. If you had asked me, I would have said they were dead, and couldn’t grow again. In the last four years I’ve learned a lot more about trees however, both from reading and working with plants. I’ve seen the stump of a pine tree cut to the ground send out a fountain of delicate green fronds trying to regrow. Trees don’t give up easily and stumps aren’t as dead as I thought.
So this image of the stump of Jesse is clearer to me now. It reminds me there is always more to learn, more to be, more to hope. Maybe I feel small, old, and cut off some days—kind of stumpy. It’s easy to get lonely and feel unneeded as we get older. Isaiah’s words call out to me to remind me I have roots, reaching deep and wide to find nourishment and connection that lead us to the regenerative power of God. Jesus came to challenge us to see ourselves differently, not as cut down or used-up, but capable of new growth, even transformation.
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.”
Creator God, help us see ourselves as people of hope, capable of learning and growing closer to you at every age. In the season of hope, may we be open and ready to let your power change us and make us new. Amen.