The Invasive Reign of God
“A shoot shall come out of from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall come out of his roots… The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” – Isaiah 11: 1, 6
The air potato is an invasive vine that came to America in 1909. Sometime after that it ended up in my yard, and after seven years of fighting it, I’ve waved the white flag.
As its name suggests, the air potato produces lots of tiny tubers, each one capable of sprouting another plant. So even as you pull it down from your trees and hedges, you are sowing hundreds more.
The master gardeners in my life will be horrified to hear it, but Isaiah’s vision of that stubborn shoot reminds me of Dioscorea bulbifera. If a harmful invasive doesn’t fit the ecology of God’s reign, it does say something about its tenacity.
God’s advent is not a feeble stalk but a powerful and prolific plant bent on reshaping the entire ecosystem. It appears destructive to those that cultivate poverty and inequality. It bends the proud below its weight and sucks up the resources of the greedy.
It is a plant not to be trifled with.
And if it is the docility of the wolf that plays nice with the flock, it is also the audacity of the lamb unafraid to run with the pack. The reign of God is a lamb with teeth and a tenacious tuber, prepared to blanket the earth in peace.
All who sow war and nurture injustice, surrender! Every wolf within me, bow to the Lamb of God!
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.