Pastor’s Corner (12/17/20)
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…” –Isaiah 11:1-2
In his book Gracias! A Latin American Journal, priest and author Henri J.M. Nouwen described his thoughts on the above passage in his journal entry for Wednesday December 2, 1981.
Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.
I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God’s saving power; but over and over again, I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the “shoot that shall sprout from the stump.”
When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence-the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends-I will always remain tempted to despair.
The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices. (page 62)
Although his words come from a different time and place than our own, I found his reflections pertinent for today. We all need words of hope, especially now. This year we don’t have the usual spectacles and big events that often mark the holiday season. This year we are once again invited to remember that God “comes to us in smallness , weakness, and hiddenness.”
May we, like Nouwen, be aware of all the small signs of God’s presence in our lives and world. We are invited to put aside our despair and embrace the hope, love, and joy that comes with the birth of the Christ child.
With a hopeful and joyous spirit,