A Dawning Radiance

I have friends who religiously get up before dawn and make their way to the beach to watch the sunrise. I deeply admire their commitment to this. You have been the beneficiary of one particular friend, Michelle, who allows me to use her beautiful pictures in my devotionals. If we were dependent on just me for pictures, all you would get is sunset pictures. I am NOT a morning person! Just ask my family.

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6 every year. It is a day that recalls the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem. They followed the glorious Epiphany star that had arisen over the town on the night of Jesus’ birth, and remained there as a guide in the darkness. It became symbolic of the light that beckoned people to step out of their own darkness into the glory of Christ.

When we say we have “had an epiphany,” we are letting others know that a lightbulb has gone off in our brain and we’ve had an enlightenment.

Today’s lectionary passage takes us back to Isaiah’s words, which foreshadow the Messiah’s arrival as a light that would come upon the darkness of the earth:

Isaiah 60 (Common English Bible)

Arise! Shine! Your light has come;
    the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth
    and gloom the nations,
    the Lord will shine upon you;
    God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations will come to your light
    and kings to your dawning radiance.

Verse 3 places us squarely at the scene in Bethlehem, where we kneel in wonder with the kings. Isaiah describes the glory of Christ as a “dawning radiance”. Let’s pause there for just a moment. It is the daily dawning radiance that dispels the darkness of night. Imagine our world without the sun! We would not survive. We need its warmth, its brilliance, and its constant presence in our days to light up our pathways. That is exactly what Christ does. He is the constant presence in the darkness of today’s reality that lights our pathway … straight back to him.

Lift up your eyes and look all around:
    they are all gathered; they have come to you.
Your sons will come from far away,
    and your daughters on caregivers’ hips.
Then you will see and be radiant;
    your heart will tremble and open wide,
    because the sea’s abundance will be turned over to you;
    the nations’ wealth will come to you.

Isaiah reminds us that we can be radiant, too. God’s glory shines through us when we lift up one another in “care, prayer, and share.”

We are invited to care for the things God cares about … the marginalized, the hungry, the animals, the poor, the addicted, the imprisoned, the planet … these are the things God cares about.

We are invited to pray for the hurts and concerns of those around us, and pray for forgiveness of our sins. We can lift up our nation and pray for our future. We can pray for our leaders, our children, and those in far away places.

And God is counting on us to share our abundance with people who don’t have anything. Food banks, homeless shelters, nursing homes filled with lonely people … these are places where we can share ourselves and be a light in someone’s darkness.

Countless camels will cover your land,
    young camels from Midian and Ephah.
They will all come from Sheba,
    carrying gold and incense,
    proclaiming the Lord’s praises.

How will you respond to this call to be a dawning radiance today? Arise and shine! Your light has come.

Dawn’s Radiance by Michelle Robertson

Arise and Shine

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? And the follow-up question is, did you choose something realistic? I would love to be 5’ 10” tall and have long, silky, naturally blond hair. But God gave me brown curls, my hairdresser provides my blond highlights, and no matter how hard I try, I will never be 4 inches taller. Wider, sure, but taller? Nope.

The new year causes us to pause and reconsider. We are reconsidering our lifestyles, our habits, our choices, and our daily routines. “Choose a goal and change” is the message of early January. Every new year brings a chance for a do-over.

Whatever you set your mind on this week, I hope daily scripture reading is a part of your makeover. This truly is one thing you CAN change. At Water’s Edge was developed to help you in this quest. It is in your inbox every morning and will always offer you a lectionary scripture and some musings. You can take or leave the musings, but the scripture is guaranteed to speak into your life every day.

Today’s passage encourages us to arise and shine. Think about that for a moment. God is trying to free you from whatever imprisonment has you locked up. Most of the time what imprisons us is of our own making. What are you currently doing that has you feeling trapped and hopeless?

Isaiah 60 (New Revised Standard Version)

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

When we read this proclamation of the Lord “rising upon us,“ we know it refers to his healing mercies, his power to overcome all oppression, and his unconditional love for his people. We are invited to tap into the ONE force that can truly obliterate the darkness we are all fighting.

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.

When Isaiah wrote this, he was forecasting the return of the Israelites to their homeland and their place of worship. They had lived in darkness long enough. A savior was on the way to deliver them. We are still in the process of seeing this come to full fruition, but in faith we know that every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess him as Lord when the fullness of time has come at his second coming. Then nations will all live in light, and kings will bow down as well.

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

So while we wait, let’s get better. Let’s do better. Let’s live better, love better, give better, speak better, wait better, and study God’s Word together.

Let us arise and shine in 2021.

Arise and Shine by Michelle Robertson