Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Isaiah 60: 1-2
I love what Rick Mylander said (Covenant Companion, December 2014):
It is curious to me that the first day of winter (Dec 21) is also the first day of winter’s demise. Just as we brace for winter’s chill (and thunder snow!), we start receiving more light. Lengthening sunshine mocks winter, scoffs at cold, derides the bleakness, and each day thereafter, the sun rises just a little earlier and sets just a little later. Winter anticipates spring, death foresees life, dark predestines light, cold envisages warmth: these are the paradoxes of the seasonal change!
What does this truth hold for us, given that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World and we are to shine his light?
In the passage at the top Isaiah exhorts the readers to “arise, shine.” The problems of returning from the Babylonian exile had worn them down. They felt insignificant against the world powers. They couldn’t get along with each other. Into that mix, the prophet calls on the people to “arise.” From their despair, they should lift themselves up.
Next come astonishing affirmations. The world and its people live in darkness. The darkness and the cloud represent the separation of the nations from Judah’s God. The glory of the Lord will rise upon the people. If the Lord has seemed distant and unresponsive, the people will experience the Lord’s glory. God’s
presence will be available to them. Then, the nations will come to the Judean people for light.
Then the people are exhorted to lift up their eyes (verse 4) and look around. God will bring back the exiles, both sons and daughters. The verse reminds the people of God’s promise to restore the community. It promises that God will revive them even if it seems impossible now. This experience will cause such joy that the people will experience a glow from within.
Isaiah 60 also promises that the nations will come to God’s people for light because they find their darkness so oppressive. If we lift up our own eyes, if we arise and do our ministry, letting the Lord lead us, we will find the ways that God acts to dispel the darkness of the world. That is, one person, one family at a time!
In 2019, let the Covenant Church arise to its mission and look out to see where God is working. However strong the darkness, we take heart. However powerful the rest of the world seems, God has chosen to work through the church. When we recognize the needs around us, and embrace the light of the Lord, we can arise out of any paralysis and engage in our ministry.
We have gained an hour of day light in the past few weeks! Light dispels darkness, not the other way around. Light shines into darkness; it illuminates and always will. Be filled with the light of God’s spirit every day. Light supersedes darkness! And so does our life in Christ!
The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear!
In Christ, Pastor Tim