“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).
City folks may not catch the urgency contained in the word, “swamp.” But those from woods and fields know that the lowland of the swamp is the last place the morning sun will strike. If there is daylight in the swamp, the sun has been up for some time already. The cowboy would have said, “We’re burning daylight!” The call to rise and shine is a call to action. But that call is not always met with delight. A song popular with the doughboys of WWI carried the title: “Oh! How I hate to get up in the morning!” In that ditty, the life of the bugler blasting out reveille was hypothetically threatened.
Isaiah’s call to rise and shine tends to receive a similar reaction by the troops called Christian Soldiers. By the time Epiphany comes, we have already been marching from Thanksgiving, all the way through Advent, and then we took on the 12 Days of Christmas. We have gotten our fill of food and carols and celebrations. We’re ready for a break, not another call to action.
Unless we spent Christmas away from home, bobbing on some ocean somewhere, or watching the blowing sand, instead of drifting snow. Unless we barely had time to chow down something that was supposed to be turkey, before we grabbed some sleep ahead of the next trip outside the wire.
Then, we may feel even less motivated to rise and shine. But if we think the enthusiasm to answer the call will come from ourselves, we are dead wrong. The ability to shine forth comes from outside and beyond us. The glory of the Lord must first rise upon us before we can rise to glorious action.
We remember that phrase, “The glory of the Lord.” That’s what shone around the Christmas angels. That’s what led Israel to the Promised Land. It is a demonstration of the presence of the God of grace and glory!
The Savior God comes to us, calls us by the gospel, enlightens us with his gifts, and keeps us in the true faith. We are like the moon. No light of ourselves, but when the Sun of Righteousness shines upon us we are able to shine forth like a full moon over snow-covered fields.
The call has come to us. It is meant for us. There is no time to waste. Jesus told us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
So, rise and shine!
We pray: Lord of light, in whom is no darkness at all, lift up sagging spirits. Fill us with your Spirit. Enable us to throw away the works of darkness. Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Use us to show this to the world. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida- Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military