Isaiah is the key figure to begin the Advent season. His prophecy shaped much of the thinking of the early Church about the coming of the Messiah. But the prophet himself was concerned about current events, not the history of salvation. He saw the vision of the “stump of Jesse” sprouting with new life because the descendants of Jesse whom he knew — the kings of Judah — were mediocrities compared with the first of the line, Kings David and Solomon. Isaiah trusted that God wasn’t finished, that something new was still at work. It is only in light of subsequent events that his particular story took on universal significance. Our own particular joys and hopes, griefs and pains are similarly a part of God’s cosmic plan.