By Eugena Wright
Lectionary reading for 01/06/2023: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
Selected passage for reflection: Isaiah 60:1-6
Isaiah 60:1-6 New Revised Standard Version
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.
4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.
As I read Isaiah 60:1-6, particularly verses 1-3, I recalled a vivid memory when I was in primary/elementary school of my mother singing the refrain of a song titled “Arky, Arky”* which goes “Arise and shine and give God the glory, glory…”. My mother used this chorus as a clarion call to wake me up along with the flicking of the light switch to illuminate my dark bedroom.
As a child and even now, I am not a morning person. While in the warmth of my bed I laid there, jolted out of the depth of my comfortable slumber. I was disoriented, as the decibels of sound increased in my bedroom. Quickly, there was an internal dialogue questioning ‘why would I leave here?’ ‘Can today get better than this?’. As my mother was not privy to this dialogue (and even if she was, it was not going to be a deterrent to her mission), the chorus continued filling the air with persistent repetition but now with the addition of illumination. The once dark, silent room was now bright and full of song for the determined goal of my exit from the bed.
As a child, I thought my mother was just using outlandish actions to wake me up but looking back, it was greater than that. In waking me up by sound and light, she also was proclaiming this melody as an encouraging invitation. On this new day, this new morning of the rising sun, there was an acknowledgement and declaration to be had. An acknowledgement of the Sovereign God with faithful identification to praise; one could consider it like a Psalm 118:24-esque type of posture. There is something wonderful to encounter, something important to look forward to.
At the end of Isaiah 59, after a long and weary oppression, the Israelites return from an extensive exile back to Jerusalem to find destruction and desertion. In the midst of being in their own jarring disorientation (clearly a more severe and serious experience than a 10 year old not wanting to get out of bed), I imagine that a similar question came to mind to the Israelites - ‘Can/will this get better?’. In both circumstances, one could see an opportunity for a perspective shift towards hope.
As uncertainty awaits, in verse 2 we see ‘But the LORD..’. God lovingly speaks to them about his faithful commitment to his covenant noting the presence of his Spirit on them and His words being in them both now and forever. Throughout this pericope, we see God’s promise of His presence.
He continues to encourage the Israelites in Isaiah 60, charging them to Arise! for there is hope and a promise of a new day, coming in light and glory.
This hope and promise is in the glory of the Lord, the Light of the world, the Redeemer, the Son of Man - Jesus Christ.
By His glory, He illuminates the darkness of understanding, and shifts paradigms. As Redeemer, he is ever reconciling us to our Heavenly Creator as sinners who continuously sin because of his love. And praises to God as the Son of Man who walks with us now and forever. May we be encouraged by the Encourager who sends His glory to His people!
As you read this passage and reflection,
How has God been faithful to you?
How has he shown His glory (presence) during seasons of uncertainty?
How have you glorified him (in word/thought/action)?
In this season of Advent, let us be encouraged with joyful anticipation as God promised to the Israelites in the past and to us today, the great Light of the world, Jesus Christ - The One who is, and was, and is to come. The One of the Old Testament (who was to come), the One of the New Testament (who did come), and the One of the New Jerusalem (who is to come again).
Loving and Wonderful God, thank you for your relentless dedication for a reconciled relationship with me. I praise and worship you Jesus, Great Redeemer and coming King; grateful for the opportunity to be wrapped in your glorious light whether in times of hope or feelings of distress. As I arise each day, may I recall your goodness and glory. May your glory rest upon me and transform me for your will and purpose. Be glorified now and always. Amen.
*Arr. © 2006, Faith Alive Christian Resources, arranger: Joyce Borger
About the Author
Eugena Wright is a disciple of Jesus Christ and continuous learner about the Kingdom of God. Born and raised in Bronx, New York, she is currently acquiring a Masters of Divinity at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. Outside of her studies and ministry, Eugena is a self-identified foodie who enjoys nature, hiking, and has a faithful appreciation of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.