Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of its roots.
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.
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;
but with righteousness 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 shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
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.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
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.
On that day there will stand as a signal to the peoples the root of Jesse, of whom the nations shall inquire, and whose dwelling shall be glorious.
If you’ve ever watched Stranger Things on Netflix than you know it’s a sci-fi show set in the 80s. The truth is, it’s a little too scary for me, as I’m not really much for the whole horror genre. Life can be scary enough, I do not need TV shows or movies to frighten me. Anyway, one of the central motifs of the show is a place called “The Upside Down”. It mirrors the small town where the characters live, but is far more ghoulish and sinister. Bad things happen in a place that is at once familiar, but also not-so-much.
In some ways what Isaiah describes is also “The Upside Down”, only neither menacing or macabre. Instead, Isaiah envisions a reversal of the way things are. Instead of a world of division filled with fear and loathing, being wrapped in the promise of the Divine gives way to a creation living in harmony, mercy, and hope. Instead of fear, there is trust. Instead of loathing, there is love. This is the world that God in Christ Jesus and through the Holy Spirit desires for us. The Christ child came into the world to turn what we see as the upside down—light in the face of darkness, love in the face of hatred, hope in the midst of despair—to its rightful place as the peaceable kingdom God envisioned for us.
–-Lisa Raylene Barnes
God of the upside down, you turn chaos into order and sorrow into joy. May the advent hope of Christ, stir in us a desire to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly in a united and harmonious world.