Summary: A sermon for the Epiphany season.
“Arise and Shine”
By: Kenneth E. Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
“Arise and Shine!”, are the cheerful words of my mother that I remember from my youth.
This is what she would say as she came into my bedroom in order to wake me up.
And this is what God is saying to us through the prophet Isaiah, “Arise, shine, for your
light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
Today is the first Sunday in the season of Epiphany.
The word epiphany means: appearing, bringing something to light, making manifest or
visible what was once unseen and hidden.
The season of Epiphany is about light.
It’s about the coming of the true Light into the darkness of this world.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated Christmas--the birth of God in human form.
Our light has come through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Now it’s up to us to decide whether or not to Arise and shine in that light, or to remain
in the darkness.
I am not a morning person. As far back as I can remember, it has always been
tremendously difficult for me to jump right out of bed when the alarm goes off or when my
mother has entered my room saying, “Arise and Shine!”
My natural tendency is to close my eyes and pray for a little more sleep, but if I were to
do this--to keep on sleeping--I would miss out on the beautiful light of the day, and I would get
The same is true with the light of God. Our natural tendency is to do everything we can to
ignore that light, and go back to sleep--or return to the darkness.
But if we were to do this, we would miss out on the beautiful experience of living as sons
and daughters of God, and ultimately we would get nothing accomplished.
Even though it is a struggle to get out of bed...as soon as I get up I am glad I did.
By the time I have put on some clothes, taken the dog for a short walk, and returned to
the house for a shower I am wide awake, in a good mood, and ready for the new day--happy
that I did not decide to stay in bed.
The same is true in our experience with God.
When we allow the Light of God to shine upon us, when we Arise in that Light ...our
lives begin to shine and we are eternally grateful.
Because this is when life truely begins---our spiritual lives---this is when we become
born again or born of God.
And it’s only natural that in order to be spritually alive, we must live in the spiritual light
Darkness means disorientation, and despair.
We associate darkness with death.
We speak of ‘dark moods,’ or the ‘dark side’ of someone’s personality, or ‘the dark
underbelly’ of society.
Total darkness would be intolerable.
We were created to live in the light.
In fact, total darkness is probably one of the most frightening things we could
We never really expereince total darkness in this life.
God is too gracious for that.
He’s given us the sun to light the day, and the moon and stars to give light to the night.
And we add our own light--candles and oil lamps, fluorescent and incandescent.
Many of us keep the light burning down the hall so that we won’t stub our toes in the
Only at the judgement, on the Last Day, is there utter darkness for those who absolutely
refuse to have the light of God’s love shine upon them.
Sin loves darkness and uses darkness as its cover.
More crimes are committed at night than in the light of day...just ask a policeman who
patrols the streets at night.
Sin draws us into the darkness. It tries to blot out the light--to kill the light.
Sin hates the light and refuses to come out into the light.
As the Bible says in John chapter 3, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil
hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
Adam hid from God in the darkness, and so do we.
We hide in the darkness when we close our ears to God’s Word, when we make ourselves
absent from the Lord’s table, when we turn away from the Church, and when we choose to go
with the flow of the world rather than deciding to go against the grain with God--choosing to
do what is right.
Verse 2 of Isaiah chapter 60 says, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is