Advent 2020 – O Radix Jesse
Based upon: Isaiah 11.10; 45.14; 52.15; Romans 15.12
By Denise Dodd, Chaplain to Bishop of Durham – Please Share Widely
“O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer”. cf Isaiah 11.10; 45.14; 52.15; Romans 15.12
A sense of urgency in prayer at a time of much needed change – I think we can all relate to this in 2020. In this season of Advent, there is one word I’m sure has been mentioned by many people during these challenging times of the pandemic. That word is HOPE. Like me, you may have heard the word hope being spoken of in times of fear, anxiety or for reassurance in moments of uncertainty. Life has certainly changed for the nations of the world and for us as individuals.
The ‘Root of Jesse’ is a reminder of one of the ancient Antiphons that speaks of hope in times of desolation – hope of a future peaceful kingdom. The prophet Isaiah speaks of a time when the Lord Almighty will bring the proudest of Israel’s leaders down, crashing like branches cut from a tree; reduced to nothing more than tree stumps on the land. The royal line of David has been cut down, but just as new branches sprout from a stump, a new king will arise.
We read in Isaiah Chapter 11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord…..this will be a sign to you”.
When there seemed to be no hope for Israel a prophecy is given of a new life, a new shoot, vulnerable yet strong… Jesus, Saviour of the World. Isaiah speaks of the remnant of Israel, yet the new shoot of hope to come will grow into a mighty tree. Christ to dwell among us, to restore us and to graft us into the deep roots of God himself.
Christian writer Jane Williams reminds us ‘The Advent acclamation calls Jesus “the root” of the tree; he is not just its product but also its source’. Christ is both the root and the remnant into which we are grafted: All hope is not lost. What a wonderful truth; we are rooted and masterfully grafted in Christ who has come and will come again in God’s glory.
As we look forward in anticipation and awe this Advent, I wonder how our hopes have changed this past year? Can we see new shoots of God’s love in our lives? What new hope will he bring as we seek to follow him into the year ahead? How do we long to deepen our roots as we continue as Disciples of Christ?
With Jesus at the heart of the tree, new shoots of hope will always emerge. As God’s people of hope may we come to the crib in prayer this Advent, knowing ourselves rooted in the God who became one of us that we may have life, life in all its fullness. Life in God, the one who is love.