It’s a little branch, but it’s alive.
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot –
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will 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….
In that day, the heir to David’s throne
will be a banner of salvation in all the world.
The nations will rally to him.
and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
~ Isaiah 11:1-2, 10
Do you know what my kids do with stumps? Stand on them.
I met a girl the other day. Ringing a bell for the Salvation Army in front of a nearby grocery store. All I had to give Kami was a crumpled up dollar bill. Kami asked what she was ringing the bell for. “I’m helping people buy food at Christmas.” Kami peeked into the bucket.
“You don’t have berry much money in der.”
She didn’t. Now, the season has just gotten started.
“Would you like to ring the bell?” she asked Kami.
She eagerly agreed. And loudly she rang that bell. A few other people stopped by the bucket. Many walked waaaaaay around it though.
“I appreciate you.” I (should have) told her.
Maybe your stump is your entire life-bucket. It feels unfair, unjust, unloving.
Maybe your Christmas seems rather dead and lifeless. A lifetime of memories with no energy to make new ones. Or even keep the old ones going. Maybe some of your family have been cut off from life. That makes Christmas more of a curse on the calendar than something exciting to watch for.
Let me tell you something though.
The tinsel. The lights sparkling. The reds and greens. The bells. They’re all a quiet little chorus right now singing softly — Jesus is coming…
He is the reason we can celebrate this season. Christmas isn’t a tree. It isn’t even making memories. It isn’t gifts or decorations or a twinkling yard.
It doesn’t have to be big. Simple is how He came anyway. A little baby with almost nothing in the middle of a cold hard cave.
A little live branch in the middle of a dead cold hard stump.
One candle can work as well as 25.
A tree branch cut out of the yard can hold handwritten verses or some homemade ornaments.
You can celebrate quietly every night. Or every Sunday. Or whenever you get a moment to let God’s Spirit breathe newness into that old stump-life of yours.
But you know something? Out of that dead, lifeless stump a marvelous thing happened. A new branch grew. And this new branch brought forth so much life and freedom.
Watch for it friends. You may feel like a stump. Forgotten, unloved. Condemned, misunderstood.
Don’t be afraid to sit still. That’s when the real life happens. That’s when you’ll hear it. Jesus is coming…
Wait for it. Something is coming. It seems small now. Just a small branch coming in a quiet whisper. But it will grow and it will be so big and loud you won’t be able to miss it.
Jesus is coming…
Join me every night around this time. Grab something to drink. Lean your kids in close with your own Bible or advent book. Maybe light a candle or many. There’s no right way or wrong way. Just take a few moments and focus on the life of the season. The real reason we are all here. The reason I can make it through Decembers. Merry Christmas. It can absolutely be merry.