Arise, Shine! (Jan.06.2013)

Arise, Shine!
Isaiah 60:1-3

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord
has risen upon you.
2 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.
3 Nations shall come to your
light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

There was a boy and his life was filled with depravity.

And he ended up being accused of fraud and being in jail when he was
in his early twenties. Surprisingly, this boy later became a father of the
orphans. He built about ten thousands orphanages and lived a great prayer life.
He confessed that God responded to his fifty thousands prayers. Some of you can
image who this boy is. Yes, it is George Muller. The boy who was a thief and
con artist was totally changed into a faithful Christian who prays to God and
shares God’s love with the people. Here I quote a famous line from him. “The
beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is
the end of anxiety.”

Muller’s life gives us a very important lesson today. That is, no matter
what the past life was, our future can be meaningful and beautiful before God
and humanity.

Today, we are having a new year’s worship service. I know you all are
here with your own prayers and hopes for your physical, emotional and financial
conditions and your family’s as well. I also have my own prayer and hopes for
2013. I hope to get along with the people on this Island and to do my best for
this ministry with God’s wisdom and love. We should support each other with a sincere
prayer. I pray that you would experience the accomplishment of your hopes this
year.

Before we pray for our hopes, there is one question that I need to ask.
That is, “what is God’s hope for us? God sent Jesus because God has a hope, a
very special hope. Today, through the Bible, we can figure out God’s hope for
us. If you keep God’s hope in your mind and live your life praying for it, then
I am pretty sure that you can have a year full of God’s love and grace.

So, let’s look at Isaiah chapter 60 v. 1. Here is a very simple answer
to the question we had.

“Arise, shine!”

Two words. God wants us to “rise and shine!”
This seems to be very simple. However, when we see our life and our situation,
it is never easy. I think for the Israelites that this commandment was too much.
Let’s look at the historical context of the Israelites.

After they had been oppressed and suffered for many years by
surrounding nations, they finally became free to go home, Jerusalem. They had lived
as slaves and were definitely worn out. Even though they had a great pleasure
of liberation from slavery, they would certainly hope to get some rest without
any pressures from their masters.

However, God commands the Israelites to rise and shine. What might they
think of it? They could respond to God’s command like “, “We have been slaves,
we are exhausted and worn out. We need to get some rest. Give us break! They
might want to rise and shine later on after getting some rest and getting used
to a new life without oppression.

Moreover, they had a more serious problem. For long years they had
forgotten God’s promise that God would be with them and make them a blessing
for the world. For long years, they had been slaves and they had ended up
forgetting God’s promise. Here is the question again, “How can they rise and
shine?” It was a pretty tough thing to do.

However, we can find the answer to that question in today’s text, right
after the commandment. Isaiah 60 v.1 “For
your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”

God says that the light the Israelites can shine has already come to
them. That means that the light does not come from the Israelites. They can’t
shine a light by themselves. They can shine the light because God’s light comes
to them. Moreover, God’s glory has already risen upon them. Before commanding “Arise
and shine”, God already gave the Israelites light and glory which helps them be
able to rise and shine for a new life. God’s light and glory had already come. The
only thing that they can do is to faithfully believe in God’s words.

Can you imagine why God gave the commandment to the Israelites? Through
this commandment, God assured the Israelites that God had not forgotten them
and that their mission as the light to the world had not been changed. It was a
way of reassuring them that they were connected with God in a never ending
covenant. This is exactly the way that God does for us. When God commands us to
do, God always gives us the ability to fulfill God’s commandments.

Then,
why this gift to the Israelites? The Bible tells us in vs. 2 and 3,

“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. Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

We can see God’s hope for us through these verses. God is now seeing
the people living in darkness and invites all of the people living in the
darkness into God’s light. And God is sending us to light the world. In today’s
verses, light is emphasized and the light definitely means the life of a
servant. The darker a place is, the brighter the light is.

We are Christians and call ourselves a church, the body of Christ. We
live on this Island as the body of Christ. For us, God commends “Arise and
Shine.” I don’t know how we can do this but I believe that God commends this because
God loves us so much. Also, God gives us the light and grace and the power to
rise and shine. We are the community in which we worship and praise God and
follow the way Jesus lived. Moreover, we should remember that the commandment
is not only for our new life here in Chilmark church but need to spread this
light to our neighbors.

 

Today is the first Sunday of 2013 and the light and grace have already
been upon all of us. Let’s use the light and grace to spread brightness all
around us. The story of Muller, I told earlier, gives us a great lesson. He was
a thief, con artist and a gambler. Muller’s father wanted his son’s life to be
changed, so he sent his son to a seminary. In the seminary, Muller met a lot of
good Christian friends. One day, some of them invited him into their prayer
meeting. In the meeting, Muller was so moved that his life was changed. He started
reading and studying the Bible every day. He realized that God’s light and
grace had been upon him. He realized that God wants him to rise and shine. He
rose and shined and became a light for his neighbors and the world as well.

This year, let us emulate Muller. Let us be a faithful and praying
community like the one that changed the Muller’s life. God commands to us,

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the
glory of the Lord has risen upon
you.”

Let us pray,

Loving
God, Arise and shine, you command us today. And you gave the power to rise and
the light to shine. We give thanks to you for them. Now bless us to live as a
light of this Island and bless us to share God’s grace with the people around
us. In you name, we pray. Amen.

 

 

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