Summary: A sermon for the second Sunday in Advent.

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Isaiah 11:1-10

“The Challenge of Living in Harmony”

Remember the riots in Los Angeles back in…I believe it was 1994?

Remember what Rodney King said during those riots?

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

That’s a very good question that has been haunting human kind ever since the Fall.

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

There is a hunger for harmony in our world, but we just can’t seem to find a way to feed it.

There is a hunger for hope.

We often find ourselves in all kinds of predicaments and see no way out.

Many teenagers who sense they are different from others choose suicide because they have no hope of acceptance by their family or peers or church.

Many women stay in abusive relationships because they have come to believe they can find no safe way out.

Many folks fall victim to various addictions and have no sense that there is hope for overcoming their slow slide toward death.

Many become hopeless because of mental or physical handicaps that make coping with the simple tasks of everyday life a chore.

Our life situations and the structures of politics, economics, and cultural attitudes have pushed many of us into the camp of hopelessness.

This is to be in hell, and Dante rightly depicted a sign fronting the gates of hell reading: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

There is also great hunger for peace.

And look at our world today!

Tensions abound.

Maybe there is some tension between some people you love… …some friends getting a divorce…

…some members of your family who are in conflict with one another…

…or maybe someone has been separated from your family for some reason.

And what about our community?

There always seems to be a war going on somewhere.

The whole world is grieving because war is raging in the part of the world that we are accustomed to calling “Holy Land.”

We often hear people say, “Those people have been fighting over there for thousands of years and they always will.”

Let’s not give in to that kind of attitude.

Let’s not give in to the attitude that there is no hope for harmony.

Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah came on the scene to bring prophecies of salvation to people who were beaten down by the turmoil of war, by the lost sense of hope.

This morning’s Old Testament Lesson begins by saying: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

Have you ever cut down a tree, thinking you were done with it…

…only to find the following spring that the tree you had left for dead now has a new shoot growing out of the stump?

This is God’s way of saying, hope is on the way, peace is on the way, harmony is on the way, new life is on the way…

…What you thought was dead is actually very much alive!

The royal family…the family of David had been cut down, and only a stump was left.

Yet Isaiah says it shall sprout again.

David’s father was named Jesse, and Isaiah is telling us that Jesus the Savior is going to bring peace and He is going to come from the household of David.

Jesus is that “Branch” on Whom the Spirit of the Lord will rest…and yes, a day will come when “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat…the cow will feed with the bear…the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra and the young child will put his hand into the viper’s nest.

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