Isa. 11:1-9 

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,

            and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,

            the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

            the spirit of counsel and might,

            the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;

             but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

            and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

            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 around his waist,

            and faithfulness the belt around his loins.


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.

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 asp,

            and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;

            for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD

                        as the waters cover the sea.


            from Rev. Kenneth Hardway, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Wheeling

            What kind of a world is this?  Wolf living with lamb?  Leopards lying with kid?  The cow’s children coming over to the bear’s house to play?  And what are an asp and an adder? 

            In the beautifully poetic way that Isaiah offers it, the natural order of things is altered by the coming of the shoot of the Jesse tree.  The animal kingdom lives together without hunt and without fear.  Infants play in their innocence around snakes that will not harm them.  No fear.  No harm.  Harmony.  Peace.  Shalom.

            The world would look like a strange place to us if Shalom ruled the day.  A world operated under the auspice of mutuality instead of personal gain; of living for the good of the other as the deciding factor of our daily living; of living with the full knowledge of the Lord.  Let us long for the strangeness of such a world.


O God, may the strangeness of Shalom be the fruit

of the full knowledge of you being born in our hearts,

 this day and forevermore.