When hiking the trails through Grey-Bruce Counties it is likely you will come across one of the most hope filled images in all of God’s creation, trees growing out of a rocks. With its roots stretching over the sides of the rock and sinking deep into the earth while its limbs reach up to touch the sun, each tree seems to embrace these large rocks. This image has always encouraged me and I have pondered, is this an image of hope or is it an image of determination; perhaps, a determined hope?
This is the image that pops into my mind each Advent when the words of the Prophet Isaiah are read, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).” In other words, out of a seemingly dead tree new life will emerge with a determined hope.
Isaiah is speaking of the kingdom which will begin with Christ and continue to be realized through the Spirit of God. In this kingdom the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, justice will cover the earth as water fills the sea and peace will be maintained between all the nations (Isaiah 11:1-10).
Isaiah is speaking to those who know how to deepen their roots around hardship and yet still reach upward. He is offering something new to imagine; a future full of peace, equality and justice. He is reminding us that with God there is always hope for new life to emerge.
This coming Sunday we begin our Advent journey. And, as is tradition we will begin by lighting the candle of Hope. I cannot imagine a better way to start any journey then with hope.