Excerpt from Romans 15:7-13
" . . . and again Isaiah says, 'The root of Jesse shall come . . .'"
Reflection by Donna Schaper
We were hiking near a great reservoir in western Massachusetts. It was cold but we had warmed ourselves by our movement. There on the side of the road was a tree that had clearly become the target of a good, strong lightning strike, some time ago. It was split in two, right down the middle, like twins who couldn't get along or married people who had long turned to separate beds. The first sight of it was piercing, saddening, making you wonder if it was the last of its line. Then on either side of the tree we noticed the leaves. Busting out from the broken bark, there was new growth. It was surely going its separate ways, the east side of the tree facing the growth east and the west side facing the growth west. The couple was not going to return to the marital bed. The twins weren't going to love each other the way their parents had hoped. The new growth was weird, almost eerie, but it was also green and certain, warmed by the morning light on one side and the evening on the other.
The prophet tells us that the root of Jesse will return. He surely means something larger than the reconciliation of individual relationships – although, if you are like me, that often is your fiercest hope. He means legacy, and issue, and life beyond lightning strikes. He means carrying on, that great act of the human who, struck down eleven times, stands up the twelfth. There is something very powerful about a prophet's promise. There is something equally powerful about a tree issuing new growth.
O God, we who wonder if all the trouble in the world has joined into an environmental/economic coalition and catastrophe, sure to break us and our children, become available to us in promise form, and turn us to the morning and the afternoon light. Amen.
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