Get Up and Go!
A sermon by Rev. Lynn Turner, Senior Associate Pastor
Richmond’s First Baptist Church
January 2, 2011
Isaiah 60: 1-5
I was a snaggled tooth
third grader…never-the- less, standing in front of the congregation I proudly
and boldly proclaimed, “Arise Shine, for your light has come.” Isaiah 60:1.
It was my first
coronation as a GA…Girls Auxiliary as they used to call it in the Baptist
Church…a missions organization for girls where you learned about missionaries
and the work they were doing around the world. Back then, you worked on steps
with the ultimate goal of being able to participate in a special coronation at
the end of the year and making your way from the first step of Maiden all the
way up to Queen Regent some day.
This was my lady in waiting year…and my scripture verse to quote in the
coronation was Isaiah 60:1a
I must confess I had no
real clue as to what that verse meant…it might have made some difference if I
had used the entire verse…added part B…”For the glory of the Lord has risen upon
you”…but to an 8 year old…that probably would not have helped so much either.
“Arise; Shine, for your
light has come”
Was that something like
my dad used to say on a Saturday
morning to get us up…Rise and Shine and get your fore day coffee! I was not even sure what that meant…fore
Or was it like the song
we used to sing at camp about Noah building the ark and the refrain was..”Rise
and shine and give God the glory glory”?
Maybe that’s a little
closer to the meaning….
So here we are this
morning, the 8th day of Christmas, the first Sunday of 2011… Epiphany
Sunday…with the actual date of Epiphany being
Thursday, January 6…and lo and behold the text is from Isaiah 60…and the
memories came flooding back and the
time I memorized that verse as a child.
And to be completely
forth coming this morning, as a child, I had never truly understood the meaning
of Epiphany…oh I had heard about the visit of the magi to see the Christ child
in the manger bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh…but
understanding that the meaning of this was the celebration of God made manifest
to everyone…not a clue…
So today…I am going to attempt to bring these two passages of scripture together
with the hope that we leave here this morning with a greater understanding of
what the prophet Isaiah meant when he said, “Arise Shine, for your light has
come, and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you”…God's light shining in the
darkness and the promise that darkness has not, cannot, will not overturn it.
We have walked through Advent, celebrated Christmas and beheld God's glory in
the Christ who has come to be with us…or have we?
And if in fact we have…does the celebration stop on January 6th
with the day of Epiphany? Is it back
to routine and normal or is it possible that we might have an understanding that
that this good news is something we can celebrate right up until Advent comes
again? How would we do that?
Well I believe that our scripture passage today tells us what we are to do, why
we should do it and what will happen if we should decide it would be a good
thing to do.
It begins with…two imperative commands….Arise and Shine!...Get up and Go! Go
where? Do what? Something!
Anything! And Why?
“Because the glory of the Lord has come upon you!!!”
When Isaiah wrote these
words thousands of years ago the Israelites were in captivity, being held
hostage in Babylon for over 70 years. Cyrus, from Persia, came down from the
north, besieged Babylon, defeated the Babylonians, and then freed those who had
been held in exile. He told them "You can go home now." Go back to Jerusalem and
rebuild your city. Arise and
Shine…For your light has come.”
One commentator on this
passage wrote…I wonder if they got up and ran or if they just sat there like
caged animals that all of a sudden find the door to their cages open, but
because they had been so habituated to confinement that they did not know what
to do, so they just stayed there.
Were they able to
understand the enormity of what had happened to them?
Do we really understand
the enormity of what happened that day that the wise men found the baby Jesus?
What if the wise men had
never followed the star? What if
they, like the scribes and religious leaders, just sat there…trying to figure it
all out…but never did anything about it…ignored the star…ignored the calling of
God in their hearts to get up and go follow that star? Could this possibly
describe us in the church today?
We have the good
news….we are content where we are just sitting here trying to figure it all out
and wondering if we really need to get up and go anywhere to discover any more?
Do we really understand
the part of that verse that says, “The Glory of the Lord has risen upon you? I tried to say it in a few different ways
to see if it made a difference…
“The GLORY of the Lord
has risen upon you”
“The glory of the LORD
has risen upon you.
“The glory of the Lord
has risen upon YOU.”
All three amaze me,
frighten me, intrigue me to know more….and to be quite honest with you this
morning…I am not sure that I today can grasp the enormity of that statement much
better than I did as an 8 year old…but that is what makes this verse of
scripture come alive to me….and as I began to study this idea of God’s
glory…soon discovered that I was in pretty good company.
Remember Moses? On the
mountain…meeting with God asks God to reveal his glory to him…and God said…You
cannot handle seeing my glory…but if you will hide in the crevice of this
mountain, I will pass by you with all my glory and cover your face for you
cannot look upon my glory and live.
And when Moses came down from the mountain the scripture says that his face was
shining for he had been in the presence of the Lord…but he was not aware of it.
Remember Solomon? He was
praying to the Lord and in 2 Chronicles 7 the scripture says that the Glory of
the Lord filled the temple and no one could enter it but rather fell down and
Remember the time Jesus
took Peter, James and John to the mountain to pray. While he was there…the scripture tells us
in Luke 9 that the disciples fell asleep and when they woke up…they saw Jesus’
glory and Moses and Elijah standing with him…they wanted to pitch three tents
and stay there…then suddenly a cloud over shadowed them and a voice from the
cloud said.."This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to him. Peter and James and John said nothing
about what they had seen for a long time
These are just a few
examples from scripture that talk about the magnificence of God’s glory
Can we even grasp the
magnitude of the statement that the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you? But
with each of these stories…amazing things happened because those who saw the
glory of the Lord were changed….
Erwin McManus in his
book, Chasing Daylight…talks about
seizing the power of the moments that God gives us as he opens up the light of
his glory on us. He refers to these
as “divine moments”…he writes,
“What if you knew that
somewhere in front of you was a moment that would change your life forever, a
moment rich with potential, a moment filled with possibilities? What if you knew
there was a moment coming, a divine moment, one where God would meet you in such
a way that nothing would be the same again? How would you treat that moment? How
would you prepare for it? How would you identify it? Moments are as numerous as
the stars in the sky and the sands in the sea, and any of them could prove to be
your most significant divine moments.” 1
When I read that from
his book, I immediately thought about the passage in our Gospel reading
today…the three wise men…who not knowing what they would find, chose to seize
the moment…they chose to look up…get up….and go find this baby Jesus.
It was a life changing
moment for them. It was a life
changing moment for you and for me.
Because this divine moment of revelation…opened the door of God’s light to shine
on the entire world.
When God’s light shines
upon us….it calls us to do something…we can’t just sit and do nothing.
Erwin goes on to say in
his book, “To follow Jesus is to move with God.
When you become a part of God’s movement, you are a missionary. Every
missionary has a mission. The mission gives us both intentionality and purpose.
You have no minutes to waste. You are required to seize every divine moment.”
Is it possible today
that God has this desire for every one of us? Is it possible that in the year
ahead God wants to show us the fullness of His glory? Can you grasp the
possibility that in the ordinary moments of your day, whether that be on the
job, sitting in a classroom, caring for children in your home…driving the
carpool to school…visiting someone in the hospital or nursing home…working in
the yard…whatever your day involves…there are ordinary moments that God wants to
turn into divine moments and all He requires of us is to be ready?
For some of you hearing
this today, I know what you are thinking….”Me? A missionary?...you have got to
be kidding….I don’t have what it takes….you don’t understand the craziness and
sometime darkness of my life…I cannot possibly be used by God right now….
There was something else
that grabbed my attention in this passage this morning.
Verse 2 in King James
reads...For behold darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people,
but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
We are told to arise and
shine because God’s glory has come upon us…but the future tense of the verb in
verse 2 reminds us that darkness will continue to come on the earth and on its
Many of the news
broadcasts were reviewing on Friday the
highlights of 2010, stories that topped the news charts during this past
year.…most of them seemed to be dark events…the earthquake in Haiti, the floods
in Nashville and California, the tornados in the Midwest…the fall of the
market…the unemployment rate…the foreclosure’s on homes….what is it about dark
news that seems to get our attention the most?....but then came the story of
those 33 Chilean miners who were trapped
2000 feet underground in total darkness cut off from the world for 69
days and the miraculous rescue of saving everyone of them….How can we forget
that moment…a glimmer of hope..Some light cast on the darkness of what was
seemingly a dark year as reported on the news….
As these miners began
telling their story…it was evident that there were times of great despair…but
many held on to their faith in being rescued…
It was reported that
President Sebastian Pinera..a constant presence at the mine during those days…as
the men were being hoisted to sunlight from their darkened tomb…grabbed and
hugged the 15th miner rescued and exclaimed…”Bienvenido a la
vida”…welcome to life”!
As the world watched
that 22 hour ordeal of each one of those men hoisted to life….the world
celebrated and cheered!
I could not help but
think that is what Isaiah was talking about….”arise and shine….your light has
come….welcome to life….now get up and go!
President Pinera went on
to say after the last miner was freed,
"We have lived a magical night, a night we will remember throughout our
lives, a night in which life defeated death,"
The night that God came into the world could be described in that way…..for
it was truly the night that life defeated death.
John tells us in John 1:
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
4 In him was life; and
the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended
Phillips reminded us many years ago in his little book, Your God Is Too Small.
So many of us limit our glimpses of God's glory in everyday life because we
simply do not expect the living God to break into our lives while we work in the
office, sit in our classrooms, or do dishes at the kitchen sink. But the glory
of God is still breaking into the world's darkness for all who look with the
eyes of faith.
Even with 33 men trapped
in a mine in the middle of Chile.
On this Sunday of Epiphany…the question is not how do I overcome the darkness in
my life and the world….the question is…What has God already done, is doing, and
has promised to continue to do?
And the answer - God's Epiphany answer - is, "Here is Jesus, my Son, my very
self, my forever and promised light of love." Here is my Glory revealed to you.
He goes on to say in verse 5 "you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall
thrill and rejoice" (Isaiah 60:5). So that in and through God's Epiphany light
shining above and within you "nations shall come to your light and kings to the
brightness of your dawn" (Isaiah 60:3). God's light shining above and within is
contagious. That light that guides our journey through darkness will gather
others along the way.
And I believe that is the final message from this passage today….the promise
that if we are shining….others will be drawn to the light of Christ within us.
God’s light is shining brightly….we are called to go on the journey…we cannot
just sit here and do nothing. Like
the wise men…we have seen the light…we have to get up and go…
We don't know where it
will take us. We may go on
side-roads, alleyways that we never expected and didn't even know existed….
Because that is what
happens when you follow the Jesus star.
For the wise men who
began following this star, it was the beginning of a long, life-altering,
all-consuming journey. The first step was to get up and go.
If we faithfully "Follow
That Star" our destination is determined. We will come into the Light. We will
experience the One who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. We will come to the
baby, lying in his mother's arms, to the rabbi…. preaching, teaching and healing
all over the countryside, to the Son of God hanging on the cross, to the risen
Savior standing by our side and calling us into the Light.
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen
upon you" declares Isaiah (Isaiah 60:1). Here, now, today in this very space
where we are all gathered becomes God's holy space. Here, now, God’s light
continues to shine…; beckoning us to the table where Christ is serving the light
of himself in the bread and the cup.
On this day as we celebrate the dawning of a new year…we remember the night
Christ stood before his disciples and said “This is my body broken for you and
as often as you eat this remember me….and then he took the cup and said, “this
is the new covenant of my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sin…
As our deacons come now to serve you….be reminded today of God's Epiphany light
glistening in the eyes of the people gathered around you…for we are family here
today and welcome all those who have claimed Christ as your Lord and Savior to
join us in this Holy Communion…As you hold the bread and the cup…..reflect on
the light of God….the light that has overcome any darkness you may be facing…the
light that leads us to be thankful and rejoice. God's light of wisdom and power
and understanding and grace…glows within the word of promise proclaimed here
1.Chasing Daylight by Erwin Raphael
McManus p. 8-9
2. Ibid p.48
—Lynn Turner © 2011