By Lilly Lewin
We are preparing to receive the baby Jesus…Preparing our hearts, our minds, our lives to have Jesus move into our neighborhood. As we move into the second week of Advent, maybe you are like me, and finding it hard to believe that it’s already here! I’ve been in the midst of taking down my fall decorations and putting up the Christmas ones while putting away all the gear from my work trip to Florida that took place before Thanksgiving. It’s been a season of moving. In the past six months, I’ve helped one son move across the country, helped my parents move from their home of forty-five years and helped my sister organize her home so she can use furniture from that move. AND I realized that I move for a living. As the curator of Sacred Spaces, I move boxes and gear from place to place, loading and unloading my mini van. I create the space to pray and engage God, and then after the event is over, I tear it down and pack it up and head back home. It’s beautiful, inspirational and physical work. And sometimes it feels like Sacred Space has become just Sacred stuff and a lot of hard work.
I need a new infusion of the Holy Spirit! I need the life giving spirit of God to pour into and flow over me, and grow new things in my tired soil! Which leads us to the gospel of Isaiah this week! Read both versions and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you!
ISAIAH 11: 1-10 New International Version
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
ISAIAH 11: 1-10 The Message
A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God. Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked. Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.
The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide. On that day, Jesse’s Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious.
Questions to consider from the Passage…journal, draw, or just be with the questions and the passage above.
1. The first week of Advent, the candle is about HOPE. Where do you find HOPE in your life this past week? What gives you HOPE? Where do you need HOPE in your life today?
2. The second week of Advent, the candle is the candle of PEACE. Notice the images in this passage regarding the natural enemies that now are living peacefully together. What places need peace in your world? What people do you need to bring peace to in your family, your workplace or your neighborhood? Are there enemies you need to make peace with this Advent? Talk to God about this.
3. What image in the Isaiah passage speaks to you? Draw or write about this. I drew this picture during journaling time on Sunday nigth and I realized that God is growing many things and God still wants to produce good fruit in my life.
4. How can you prepare Him Room this Advent? What do you need to do or quit doing in order to get ready for the birth of Jesus? For me, less Netflix and more silence.
5. Roots and New Growth. In what ways have you put down roots in your faith this year? In what areas would you like to see NEW growth in the year ahead? We each got an Amaryllis Bulb to plant and watch grow in the weeks ahead. Why not buy a bulb to plant and watch as the shoots come out and begin to produce new growth. Or take a walk outside and use the trees and plants,the roots or branches to be your parable. Let Jesus peak to you through these things as you walk.
6. How would you like to see righteousness and justice grow in your land, in your country, and neighborhood? Spend some time praying for this.
Prepare to be surprised by the Prince of Peace this week. Watch for signs of new growth and glimpses of the Holy Spirit.
Lord God! Give us PEACE as we wait for the Gift of Jesus. Cleanse us to prepare the way for his arrival. Help us to slow down and prepare our hearts. Help us to wait and take time to be with you. Teach us to contemplate the wonder of God with us. Teach us to know the presence of your Spirit. Teach us to bear the life of Jesus and live out his Kingdom.
Today and Always. In your Name, Amen (adapted from Ray Simpson, Lindesfarne)
You can find resources for Advent and Christmas Sacred Space prayer stations at freerangeworship.com