Sunday, December 9
On Tuesday of this past week, I had the privilege, as I do most Tuesdays, to celebrate the weekday liturgies here at Old St. Pat’s at 7:00 am and 12:10 pm. The first reading for the daily mass was from the prophet Isaiah (11:1-10) and as I said in my short homily: this reading from Isaiah almost seems like “the” symbolic Advent text that reminds us so vividly of the season we are in. You may recall: “On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from these roots a bud shall blossom…”
I couldn’t help but be captured by the imagery Isaiah offers to us, that from this stump something great and beautiful is going to blossom; indeed something new! I read in a commentary somewhere that this text was actually written as part of the liturgical ceremony from the Davidic kings. And therefore if you read this text further Isaiah is basically telling us what we hope the king will be about: lead with a spirit of “counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord… not by appearance shall he judge… he shall judge the poor with justice… justice will be the band around his waist!” And if he does this well, and builds a kingdom pleasing to God, great things will happen. Like, you’ll see the wolf be a guest of the lamb; leopards will lie down with the kid; calf and young lion will browse together; cows and bears will be neighbors; and if that’s now capturing your attention, then just imagine that a baby will be able to go into the cobra’s den… and there will be NO harm or ruin on God’s holy mountain.
I love this text. It is a piece of scripture that is meant to communicate a sense of Hope. Imagine if we worked harder at building the kingdom what could come of this world of ours! We would see possibility and new life sprouting up around us.
As I was running on the treadmill the other day, I was able to see just a short portion of the funeral service in Houston for President George HW Bush. I have to admit that I love all the traditions and ritual when it comes to big funerals like #41’s. Of the eulogies I heard, I was most impressed with the pastor of the Bush’s church, St. Mark’s Episcopal in Houston. Even though it appeared that I was probably the only one watching the funeral on the screen attached to the treadmill, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the pastor’s testimony about George HW Bush’s beautiful faith. He spoke of the importance of faith communities and worship and how Mr. Bush was actively involved for over 50 years at the church of St. Mark’s. What impressed me the most about watching this televised funeral service was the public witness of faith.
My prayer for this Advent is that from Jesse’s stump, our faith will continue to grow and blossom in new and exciting ways, especially for the next generation. As nostalgic as it was to watch the pomp and circumstance of a State funeral, I hope we can find new ways to let God’s Word blossom in the hearts of the next generation. I hope this Christmas will be a new birth of something exciting for all of us who gather in this house of worship, and especially for all those whom we invite and welcome each and every week.
Hope and Peace to all,
Father Tom Hurley