Sunday, December 09, 2012

Something Hardly Noticeable

After a hard week of soul struggle, I don’t have much to write today. This reflection from Henri Nouwen for the second Sunday of Advent blessed me greatly, so I wanted to pass it along.

"A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him . . ." (Isa.11:1-2).

These words from last night's liturgy have stayed with me during the day. Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.

I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the "shoot that shall sprout from the stump."

When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence - the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends - I will always remain tempted to despair.

The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices.

iGracias! - A Latin American Journal (December 2, 1981) © Henri J.M. Nouwen. Published by HarperCollins. Reprinted with publisher's kind permission.


ben said...

Amen, Scott. By the way, has a free audio reading of Bonhoeffer's Christmas devotionals available this month, and having listened to the first few I think you might resonate with them, some of which (all?) were written from prison.

Scott said...

Thanks for that, Ben. I need to check that out. I usually really appreciate Bonhoeffer.

ben said...

No problem, here's a link to the audio book, "God is in the Manger":

Scott said...

loving this audiobook, Ben, thanks aqain!