December 19, 2021
O Root of Jesse, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings fall silent before you; nations bow down and worship you. O come to deliver us and do not delay.
In the O Antiphons, the ancient prayer-song of waiting and expectation, the third title given to the Christ (or Light, or Love, if you prefer) is Root of Jesse, as described by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, in 11:1: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.” Jesse was the father of King David, the greatest king in Jewish history. The Light was prophesied to come out of this particular lineage of royalty, faithfulness, and humanity.
This morning, as I perused the headlines (something that I limit for my own soul’s well-being), I realized that for the second year in a row, we will not be attending Christmas Eve Worship. The Omicron variant is in our state, along with the ongoing presence of Delta, and no mask or vaccine mandate is in force. The service will be full of people and guests whose vaccination status I cannot insure. Our daughter, who lives alone, will be traveling from Boston, and we cannot take a risk of exposing her and sending her home sick. As a minister, missing the celebration of the birth of Christ, Love, and Light (again) is difficult.
So, the image of being rooted in someone bigger than me, someone more faithful than me, someone more loving than me, someone ever-present, touches me deeply this advent of looking and longing in a world where the tiniest of viruses, of beings, has taught us that we are not in control. The promise is that from this root of Jesse a flower will blossom. Roots grow in darkness, yet from the darkness comes great beauty. I hold that promise to my heart with great anticipation.
Prayer: In this long season of continuing darkness, pandemic, suspicion, division, fear, doubt, and anger, we call on you, Root of Jesse, to ground us in wisdom and in hope, in faithfulness and in love. Whatever our beliefs, whatever name we use for God, help us to hold fast to you and to give our loyalty to you. Use us, we ask, to help make the flowering a part of our lives in a world that so desperately needs your presence and your grace. May it be so.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Blessings to you ~ Rosemary firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit Pixabay