Hope in uncertain times
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: on him the Spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and perception, a spirit of understanding and authority, a spirit of knowledge and reverence. (Isaiah 11 : 1-2)
Over the next weeks, we shall hear in our Advent readings, words from the prophets of the Old Testament, speaking out in times of uncertainty. Even when their world was racked by conflict, injustice, famine and disease, their faith in God gave them stability and hope. They listened for God’s voice and looked for evidence of God’s presence around them, and then they ‘forth-told’ God’s word to guide and console the people.
Dr Hideko Tamura-Snider was ten years old in August 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on her home city of Hiroshima. The bomb killed an estimated 75,000 people outright and obliterated large parts of the city. Amazingly Hideko survived.
The scientists had predicted that after the blast, because of the radiation, nothing would grow in Hiroshima for around 75 years. But six months later, during the spring of 1946, new shoots began to appear from the ancient decimated tree stumps.
Watching nature return to life helped Hideko return to life too. It wasn’t easy – she had experienced great trauma and the loss of her parents. But in time her hope grew, as did her desire to communicate God’s message of love and peace. Dr Tamura began to take shoots from Hiroshima’s surviving trees and nurtured them into new life, sending the saplings around the world so that new Hiroshima trees could grow – symbols of hope and healing.
As we draw towards the end of a very challenging year, and in spite of the uncertainties that still surround us, we can remind ourselves of Isaiah’s words: ‘A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots’. The shoot Isaiah spoke about pointed to Jesus, whose birth fulfilled a promise God made long ago – that whatever was going on in our lives, God would never leave us.
And each Advent we remind ourselves of the hope and healing that is wrapped up in that promise. That we are loved by God so much that he has come to be with us, born as one of us – Emmanuel.
God of hope, be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand on, be the foundation of our lives.
Peace for the journey