Monday, December 9, 2019
Root: #AdventWord Day 9
We place a lot of trust in the giant maple tree in our backyard, as ours and the neighborhood kids climb on and swing from the branches. This sucker is solid, tall, and expansive. The roots are no joke either, just ask my lawn mower. While these roots are not exactly deep, they are thick and extend far beyond the circumference of the tree. The maple is stable, healthy, and strong because it is securely rooted.
You can tell a tree by its fruit, Jesus said. True. Yet the durability, longevity, and health can be found in roots, he would say elsewhere.
In light of the many ways the biblical story has been co-opted in both the past and present, Advent is as good a time as any to contemplate the rootedness of our faith and the foundation of the gospel we profess.
Here, Isaiah 11 may be a good plum line. The prophet anticipates a branch growing out of the “root of Jesse” to inaugurate a season so reconciling and universal, so upside down and inclusive that wolves will live with lambs, calves lay with lions, and nursing children can play over snake holes - a little child, not some pompous ruler- will even lead the way to the place where ”they will not hurt or destroy on the holy mountain.”
I have frequently wondered if Mary recited this lyric to Jesus when he was young.
Fast forward generations later, the gospel roots itself in the leveling of power structures that have for far too long benefited the predator at the expense of the prey. The branch of Jesse, incarnated in Jesus, “leads the way” as he proclaims a vision to undo ecosystems that pit one creature against another and exploit the vulnerable. I am still longing for this dream to be fully realized. My bet is you are, too. Until then, let us sink our roots into Advent hope, sprout broad limbs of love, and bear the kind of fruit able to carry this story forward from one generation to the next. Maybe then neighbors near and far will trust the gospel once again.