Bible Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord, and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra's den, the young child will put its hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
In discovering ‘The Lost Gardens of Walgrave Rectory’, we have cut back a number of shrubs and trees that have run wild, letting light into the garden and creating space for some more attractive plants as well as some fruit and veg.
What we hadn’t bargained for was the relentless bid for survival of some of the plants. Where we have cut back to a stump, shoots are re-appearing, and some in other parts of the garden, presumably form their extensive root structure.
Our reading is set at a time of exile for the people of Israel, no longer living in their own land or in charge of their own destiny. Isaiah likens them to the stump of a tree, a tree whose roots go back to Jesse, the father of David, their greatest king, and Isaiah casts a vision for the future. The tree of Jesse is cut down, but it is not destroyed, and Isaiah sees a future king rising up and ruling in peace, with wisdom and understanding, where the poor and needy are provided for and where the animal kingdom is no longer ruled by the survival of the fittest. Quite a vision!
For Christians, this vision points to the coming of Jesus as Prince of Peace, announcing the Kingdom of God. There is clearly though, some way to go before we see the complete fulfilment of Isaiah’s vision, something that will only be fully realised when Jesus returns in power and glory.
In the meantime, though, there are things we can do as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we can follow the principles that Isaiah has outlined. In our relationships with others, let us not judge people by what we see or hear, but seek wisdom and understanding. In the way we conduct our lives, let us work for justice and support the poor and needy. And let us pray that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Lord Jesus, we seek wisdom and understanding in our relationships, justice and peace in our world and that the good news of Jesus would be heard around the world.
O Come, Emmanuel – Enya