November 19, 2022
You don’t have to walk through a forest very long before spotting the natural phenomenon that Isaiah uses as a metaphor to describe the advent of our promised Messiah. Indeed, stump sprouting is a natural way that fallen trees regenerate, as the root system of a felled tree directs its residual energy into a new growth that emerges from the stump.
The image of a fragile new branch hopefully poking its head up from a stump, drawing energy from an ancient root system as it does so, provides an incredibly powerful metaphor for understanding the Messiah promised to God’s people in scripture. It reminds us of the way God’s healing and transforming power is ever available to small things, even to weak and vulnerable things, like a mustard seed or yeast (Luke 13:18-21), not to mention Jesus himself. Indeed, Isaiah 11 goes on to provide an eloquent description of the way dominating power will one day become reconciled to this constitutional vulnerability, a vulnerability that we must never confuse with powerlessness: "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" (vs. 6).
With this powerful image before us, we are strengthened in our trust that God’s counter-intuitive power enables a small school like ICS to continue to accomplish great things. We lean into our work joyfully, as we strive to be an academic community that bears faithful witness to a Messiah who brings healing, fulfillment, and gracious transformation! And as we ask for your continued support for our work, through your prayers and your financial gifts, we thank you for all the many ways you have already supported our efforts to embody a living tradition of faithfulness to our Maker and Redeemer’s shalom way.
In the fall 2022 issue of Perspective magazine, you will read pieces by ICS faculty, friends, students, and staff seeking to understand precisely what it means for us to belong to such a living tradition of faithfulness. In my piece, I reference a wonderful image from Psalm 85, which promises that “faithfulness will rise up from the ground” (vs. 11). Is there any better way to think about the tender shoot that comes out of the stump of Jesse, as well as our desire to become branches connected to that same messianic vine (John 15:1-5)?