A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his 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 he 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 he 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 the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
By Susie Helm
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
And a branch shall grow out of his roots.
You’ve likely heard about Six Degrees of Separation – that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other. Perhaps you’ve even played the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The idea is that we are all connected to one another through those we know and with whom we connect. As we move beyond the time of lost physical contact with our family, friends, work colleagues and even our church family, our social connections are reigniting. Like that shoot that comes from the stump, our connections with one another grow out of our roots. Although our roots do bind us, we have many differences that can separate us. Those differences can be gender, racial, nationality, generational, political and physical. In a time where differences can cause extreme anger, hatred, name calling, familial separations, and even violence, we need only to lean on the words of our Hymn of Welcome, Blest be the Tie, to recall that our bindings are stronger than our differences.
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred hearts is like to that above.
The fellowship of kindred hearts – our six degrees of separation can be our six degrees of unification. While the recognition of our differences is important for discourse and discussion, the embracing of our fellowship and our kindred hearts is our acknowledgement that we are rooted in the same Christian love that can propel our hearts toward greater understanding.
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.
Living with our differences is important as we are all individuals. Just as a tree or plant whose roots become bound can lose its luster or life, people can become suppressed with bound roots. We all need room to grow and spread our branches. If the wolf and lamb can live together, and the leopard lies with the kid, can we celebrate our differences, and still know that despite those differences, we share the great love of Christ.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him and his dwelling shall be glorious.
The signal … the symbolism of the root of Jesse, foretold by Isaiah, so long ago, gives peace to the world – to all who believe. And in this Advent season, we reflect on how we connect; though we may differ in many ways, we are all together in faith.
So, if we have or have not met, I know you, my friend, for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and share the branches that grew from the stump that came from the stem of Jesse.
By Dr. Ben Hutchens
The hymn “Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth” is a perpetual favorite of mine. At Westminster we employ it in a twofold procession.
The first, perhaps most obvious, is the physical movement of singers from the rear of the sanctuary to the chancel. In so doing, we are reminded of entering into God’s presence as we worship.
The second is procession of sound. As the hymn retells the story of the coming Christ, the number of voices and instruments swells with each passing verse. In today’s recording, the first verse of the hymn is sung by five of our Girl Choristers. A small number of handbells accompany 40 of our youngest children in singing verse two. The adult choir takes verse three. The remainder of the verses are sung by the largest choir of the church—the congregation.
The late Sir David Willcocks provides us with the free harmonization of the last stanza as we sing praise to the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Paraclete. The recording is that of the choirs of Westminster earlier in December 2019. May your celebration of Christmas be filled with the light, love, and joy expressed through our music.