Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY
We recently cut down a couple of ash trees at Hope to make room for the Community and Ministry Center we plan to build over the next 18 months. We left the stumps a bit higher than you might expect so that a bull dozer can help take them out. Perhaps that’s why I noticed.
Initially the stumps were just as you’d expect. Bare bark leading up to a sawed-off top. But as the weeks passed, something began to happen. Although the stumps were destined for the dozer, apparently, they didn’t get the message. At first a shoot shot off the side of each of the stumps, and if you look at them today it looks like they each have a bush growing directly were the rest of the tree used to be.
It’s no secret I love this image, and I was delighted to see it spring to life at Hope. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “A shoot shall rise from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). What a message of hope.
Isaiah was talking to the kingdom of Israel. They had experienced greatness. They inherited a promised land and God established them as a kingdom. But through the course of history they were conquered, this time by Assyria. They were cut down. The end. Or so they thought.
Isaiah wrote, “A shoot shall rise…” Isaiah reminded them of God’s power to bring life out of death, victory out of conquest, and hope out of despair. God has the power to turn our “game overs” into new life. The Assyrians may have cut down the tree, but they forgot about the roots.
“…God turns all the times we want to say ‘shoot’ into shoots of life.”
There are times in all of our lives where we feel cut down. Perhaps the ax strikes with news of death or illness. Perhaps the blow comes with uncertain employment or financial crisis. Maybe a relationship is falling apart or the darkness of depression is creeping in. We’ve all been there. But the good news for us is that no circumstance of our life gets the final word. Even when we feel like a stump, God’s plan is always to spring up newness of life in us. In short, God turns all the times we want to say “shoot” into shoots of life.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.