Tomo Duke ’20, M.Div.

A shoot shall come out from the stock 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.

Isaiah 11:1-5


Four people walking in the woods.Life transitions, society changes, and we ride the wave of movement no matter how slow or static it may seem at times. The cyclical nature of the Church seasons gives me a sense of being held even amid feeling disconnected and out of control. This passage from Isaiah mentions “roots.” As an immigrant, I often think about my roots. Recently, someone has asked me, “What makes you feel connected to American land?”

Undoubtedly, I am not native to American land but have developed inevitable connections to the land by living here. I can live here because of the harvests of this land, and because of those who have tended this land since way before my time. While I cannot escape the reality of land occupation and degradation, the passage speaks to me of an important sense of rootedness. I am reminded of my roots that are deeper than provincial concepts and far beyond geographical boundaries. Our rootedness is in God’s creation in that we are made of dust and divine breath. Our rootedness is in the birth of Christ which grants us divine hope and mercy. Our rootedness is in Christ who wears righteousness and faithfulness as His armor and whose saving grace compels us to see God-given dignity in all living things. Our rootedness is the Holy Spirit who fuels us with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Christ and humanity are one and united like a tree. Upon this rootedness, artificial distinctions and exclusionary mentalities of outsider-insider ideas melt away. My roots are not siloed nor temporal but inherently dependent on the universal web of mutuality. This is the rootedness that grounds me wherever I go, whomever I encounter. As we move through this season, looking forward in anticipation of the coming of Christ, we may not need to look so far. Instead, we may look inwardly to our rootedness and feel Christ’s presence in our roots. How does your rootedness manifest in your daily lives this Advent?