"A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, the Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God. Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked." (Isaiah 11:1-4, The Message)
By BISHOP ROBERT HAYES JR.
Words can betray us. We think we know their meaning, but we don’t.
One such word: conspiracy. Be honest with me — it’s likely you will think of a devious scheme. Even Mr. Webster defines the word as a plot, a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act.
There you have it. It’s the dictionary definition.
It’s not our fault that we believe conspiracy means some wicked activity, that we naturally conclude somebody is up to something sinister when the word conspiracy is used.
However, there also can be a conspiracy of good! Read the dictionary’s second definition of this word. You’ll discover Mr. Webster has more to say. You will find that conspiracy also means to act in harmony toward a common end.
I bring this to your attention during this Advent/Christmas season because the Great God who created heaven and earth and everything in it is up to something!
There is a conspiracy going on. Don’t miss it. It is nothing less than a conspiracy of goodness!
God’s plan gives us someone whose "words will bring everyone to awed attention, and whose mere breath will topple the wicked"! The prophets such as Isaiah knew this. They knew God was planning a spectacular, earth-shattering action for GOOD. They didn’t know when, but they were convinced that God had been scheming since Adam’s fall.
Isaiah probably knew more than most, because he boldly proclaimed "a child will be born to us and a son will be given." He goes so far as to say that child will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
Isaiah even identifies the ancestry and place from which this gift of God was to come: "a shoot from the stump of Jesse" (the father of David), from a virgin’s womb, in the city of Bethlehem.
Sure enough, nearing that tiny town one night, two weary travelers stumbled their way to a crowded inn, only to find there was no room. And the plot began to thicken. A child was born, and suddenly a host of angels gathered to form a heavenly chorus. Ordinary shepherds were summoned to be witnesses, and wise men trekked to see the child, following a star.
Some years later another prophet, whose name was John the Baptist, emerged from the wilderness and added to the conspiracy theories. He proclaimed someone would come "that is more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie." (Mark 1:7)
I could write much more on all the details of this scheme. But let’s return to Webster’s definition that conspiracy means to act in harmony toward a common end.
This so-called conspiracy didn’t begin in Bethlehem. Not with a star in the East. Not with shepherds watching over their flocks one night. This scheme didn’t start with an imperial decree about taxes. Not even with Mary and Joseph.
This conspiracy of goodness began with a redemptive purpose in the heart of God.
God plans nothing less than the restoration of the world. In holy harmony, the Most High works toward the common end of reconciling us unto God. Individuals and institutions can be redeemed and restored.
Author James Reid said, "Jesus did not just appear for a moment, like a flash from across the frontiers of the world, and then vanish into darkness. He dwells among us, living our lives, sharing our troubles, entering our sorrows and our joys, and bearing our burdens. He identifies himself with humanity at every point."
In this great demonstration of God’s love, I realize that the light still shines from Bethlehem and that the darkness of our world has not been able to extinguish it.