A Righteous Branch

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)


*Behold, the Lord comes to save us.  **O come, let us worship Him.  (Invitatory from Treasury of Daily Prayer)

*Behold, they days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch.  **In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.  ***This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.  (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Responsory from Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Are you on the Advent journey this December?  Maybe you use a devotional like our family does to embark on this journey.  We love Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, and it has guided our Advent journey for the past few years, along with a beautiful Jesse Tree calendar Courtney sewed several years ago and the Voskamp’s Cradle to the Cross Advent Wreath.

The Jesse Tree Advent journey refers to the following Scripture passage.  As you read it, can you notice God’s love and compassion for the nations?

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and 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 of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf 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 cobra,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.”  (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Did you hear our Abba Father’s heart for the nations, especially the poor and oppressed of the earth?  O the deep, deep love of the Father for His children!

As the young mother of Jesus, her womb recently filled with the coming Messiah, Mary went to see her relative Elizabeth because the angel Gabriel had told her of Elizabeth’s late-in-life pregnancy.  Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, felt John immediately leap for joy in her womb at the sound of the mother of his Savior’s voice!

From this encounter with Elizabeth, and from all the ponderings in her heart since the angel’s announcement to her, Mary bursts forth in one of the most glorious songs ever sung–the Magnificat.  Hear once again God’s heart for the weak and the oppressed.

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”  (Luke 1 :46-55)

May your journey to the manger this Advent be filled, like Mary, with awe in our God’s love, compassion, and goodness to His people.


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