Advent Devotional for December 18th

The Peaceable Kingdom

1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the Lord shall 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. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6 The wolf shall live with the lam, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious. 

How we yearn for the Peaceable Kingdom foretold by Isaiah. To prepare for this season of Advent, let us stop, sit on the stump of Jesse, and open our hearts that we might bear the fruit of that shoot.

As with the wolf and the lamb, the oxen and the lion, our differences keep us apart. Who knew that the lion could eat hay? We have demonstrated our commitment to reach around those differences: aid for global wars, food for the hungry, scholarships for the disadvantaged. But maybe the Kingdom is suggesting we can reach further, even stretch. Can we really be in relationship with those who are different? The stump, once a tree, holds the promise that we can do the work that it takes to make, and keep, a friend. As we celebrate His birth, I pray that I answer our Messiah’s call to include, in my home and at my table, a child of God who seems to be so different. I pray for the courage and love to take that one tiny step toward a Peaceable Kingdom.

-Sally McElwee

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, ca. 1830-1832, Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., oil on canvas, 45 x 60 cm.

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