December 5, 2010

Isaiah 11:1-10 Romans 15:4-13 Matthew 3:1-12 I didn’t want to preach about John the Baptist this morning. As you may have noticed, John the Baptist shows up every year during Advent. And he can be a little scary, as he scolds and chides and warns the people to repent and to flee from the wrath to come. Instead of preaching about repentance, I wanted to focus on the beautiful, peaceful images from the earlier prophet, Isaiah. I didn’t want to get stuck with the image of the axe lying at the root of the trees. I wanted to talk about the new shoot growing out of the tree stump instead. But as I explored the text in Isaiah, it kept leading me right back to John the Baptist and the one coming after him. And so you will have a sermon today that is inspired by two prophets… Isaiah and John. The prophet Isaiah wrote about a vision of peace. He predicted that peace would be achieved through the leadership of a righteous ruler in the line of King David. Poetically, Isaiah wrote: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” And Isaiah described the perfect leader who would surpass even the beloved King David: “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord… [and] with righteousness … Read more »

December 8, 2013

Isaiah 11:1-10 Matthew 3:1-12 “The Axe at the Root of the Trees” “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” This verse brings to mind memories of walking through the woods in places like BC where the forests are very mature. Big, old trees have been cut or more often have died and long since fallen to the ground. And from their stumps, often moss-covered and starting to rot, new trees are beginning to grow. Shoots are coming up from these stumps of old dead trees. Whole new trees are growing out of some of them, nourished by the remnants of the old ones, but growing new and strong, with the potential to bear fruit, provide shade, and become a home for the little animals and birds of the forest. When the prophet Isaiah wrote these words, they were words of hope, and promise, and possibility for a new ruler for Israel who would emerge from the tragedies and disappointments of the present and recent past, and who would bring peace and security to God’s people. In the context of Israel having been conquered by Assyria, the prophet’s words inspire hope that at least a remnant will survive (like a shoot growing out from a dead stump) and that one day peace and tranquility will be the reality for all of creation. Of course, when Christians read this text, we recognize Jesus the Christ as the one on whom … Read more »

December 4, 2016

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-7 18-19 Romans 15:4-13 Matthew 3:1-12 “A Peaceable Kingdom with Plenty of Good Fruit” Listen to this Sermon When the prophet Isaiah wrote the now-familiar messianic oracle about the coming of a righteous ruler, and described the peaceable kingdom that would result as a place where wild animals and little children eat and play together in safety, his world was not very peaceful at all. It was around 733 BCE, and Isaiah was in Judah where King Ahaz was the ruler. When the northern kingdom of Israel and the Arameans of Damascas tried to force Judah and their king to join their rebellion against Assyria, Isaiah advised King Ahaz to refuse, which he did. But I think Isaiah was hoping for a time of peace for Judah and Jerusalem, and the king’s next political decision didn’t make that too likely. Instead of joining the rebel alliance, Ahaz called Assyria to intervene. This they did with devastating impact, eventually leading to the destruction of Samaria and the end of the northern kingdom in 721. Isaiah objected to this dangerous move by King Ahaz, but he remained hopeful about the future. Rather than being totally discouraged by the current king, the prophet was thinking about his young son, Hezekiah, who would follow Ahaz as king. Perhaps he might be the righteous Davidic ruler that everyone was longing for. This morning’s hopeful passage may reflect that rising hope in Hezekiah as God’s righteous king, … Read more »