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. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
When I worked as the on-call chaplain at Duke University Hospital, I would receive pages from patients who wanted a visit, and it was almost always because they received bad news. Upon arrival, we would read scripture, and share prayers, and go through tissues, but then I would have to leave to go to the next room and the next patient.
And it came to pass, after a particularly rough shift, I felt a deep desire for something comforting after so much discomfort. So I did what any enterprising young seminarian would do, I flocked to YouTube. At first I thought watching clips of comedians would cure my despair, but it was fleeting. Next, I considered blooper reels from famous television shows, but they only provided a brief salve. But then I stumbled across something that actually made a difference: cute videos of animals becoming friends.
There’s something almost miraculous about watching a monkey play with a dog, or a cat cuddling with a kangaroo, that left me changed on the other side.
Thousands of years ago, Isaiah provided a vision to the people Israel of a time in which various animals will dwell together as a sign of God’s grace. What we wait for this Advent season, is nothing short of the miracle of a rewritten cosmos where despair is vanquished forever.
If you have time today, I encourage you to spend some time on YouTube looking at cute videos of animals together. Oddly enough, those videos are a foretaste of God’s kingdom come.