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Rise Up! God Is Speaking!

Rise Up! God Is Speaking!

Welcome to the first in my series of mini-messages based on UMC Discipleship Ministries’ Rise Up! worship series for the Season After Epiphany. I’m going to be adding in the hymns and some of the other parts of the liturgy for each Sunday in the series, so hopefully this will feel like a form of visual, audio and written worship for you. No matter how you perceive it, welcome! God is speaking! Amen!

Arise, Shine, For Your Light Has Come

The Third Song of Isaiah 60:1-19
from Canticles, released December 5, 2013
(c) 2013 Jered McKenna
jmckenna.webs.com/churchmusic.htm

Lyrics:

Arise shine for your light has come and the glory of God is on you
Arise see when the earth grows dark that the Lord will arise upon you
The Lord will arise upon you

Nations will come to your light lift up your eyes and see
We’ll gather together and come to you
And your love will be all that we know
Your love will be all that we know
The sun will not shine cause you’ll be all the light that we need
and violence will end all the wars that we wage will cease

We will glorify your name
We will glorify your name.

Arise come to the open gates for the Father is welcoming you
Fear not for the Lord brings peace and redemption to all who believe
Redemption to all who believe

Nations will come to your light lift up your eyes and see
We’ll gather together and come to you
And your love will be all that we know
Your love will be all that we know
The sun will not shine cause you’ll be all the light that we need
and violence will end all the wars that we wage will cease

We will glorify your name
We will glorify your name.

Spoken Word

I so wish I knew more about how to recite poems like this. Sadly, it’s a skill I don’t seem to possess. This is beautiful, eloquent, profound.

Scripture Reading

The scripture reading for this service is a beautifully rendered translation by UMC Discipleship Ministries team member, Taylor Burton-Edwards. In regular worship, it would be read by two-three readers/voices with the congregation joining in at the end. Obviously, that’s not possible here, so I’ve done my best to compensate visually in the following slideshow.

Child of God

This worship series has introduced me to the wonderful music of Rev. Mark A. Miller, and Child of God has become one of my favorites. We are so conditioned to see what the world sees in people, that we too often fail to see others for through the eyes of Christ, and of God. Let this song serve as a reminder that each of us and each person we encounter is a Child of God.

Lyrics:

No matter what people say,
Say or think about me,
I am a child, I am a child of God.

No matter what people say,
Say or think about you,
You are a child, you are a child of God,

No matter what the world says,
Says or thinks about me,
I am a child, I am a child of God.

No matter what the Church says,
Decisions, pronouncements on you,
You are a child, you are a child of God.

And there is nothing and no one
who can separate, they can’t separate
you from the truth that you’re someone.
You are family.
You are meant to be a child, a child of God.

You are a child, a child of God.

Reflection for Sunday, January 7, 2018

If we were to compare the current events of the times for our scriptures this morning, we’d find that Isaiah and Mark were writing about similar situations.

In Isaiah’s case, the southern kingdom and Jerusalem with it had experienced a fairly long period of good leadership, prosperity, ally building, and infrastructure development, but income inequality and objections to how the distribution of that prosperity was done combined with an incompetent new leader were bringing the kingdom to the brink of revolt. Chapter after chapter finds God, speaking through Isaiah, warning His people of the error of their ways and the consequences they’ll suffer. Finally and once again through Isaiah, God speaks hope to His most faithful. “Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you.” (Isaiah 60:1, The Message)

Eight hundred years later, the period Mark writes about, God’s people are once again under the leadership, both jurisdictional and religious, of men who are more concerned about retaining as much of their own wealth, power and control under Roman occupation than anything else – incompetent leaders who care little about their people beyond demanding their obedience. As Mark reminds us, Isaiah’s prophecies have been fulfilled.  This time, God speaks through John the Baptist who comes through the wilderness once again warning His people to change their ways and to witness to the coming of the Light.

And here we are today … 1,980 or so years later, finding ourselves in circumstances not all that different … not just here in the US, but around the globe. The leaders of most nations are focused on maintaining power, control and wealth at any cost, income inequality is rampant, and people are struggling with what seems a nearly impenetrable darkness.

There are so many voices claiming to speak light into that dark, but only speaking more darkness …

Who can we trust?

Dare we trust?

Instead, we withdraw … as the poet said, retreat … clinging desperately to the hope that the Light will come again, doubting whether God is speaking still.

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God … Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word, nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. (John 1:1, 3-5 CEB). 

The darkness doesn’t extinguish the Light. Death could not overcome the Light. The grave could not hold the Light.

Yes, it’s been dark and, yes, we’ve been struggling, possibly losing hope, feeling lost, but it’s time to rise up! Each one of us is a Child of God and God is speaking to His children, just as He always has! When we choose to listen … to hush … to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10), we will hear Him.

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word is with me, and the Word is in me … I came into being through the Word, and without the Word, I cannot be. The Word brought life into my being and light for all people.  For all people. An inextinguishable light that I must now carry, for the Word has no body now, but mine … no hands, no feet but mine … And yours …

For the majority of 57 years, I chose not to hear God speaking to me, calling me to His service. I wandered along, in and out of the darkness, parched and lost for fifty … seven … years. And then, one day, the Spirit said, “Hush … be still and hear God …”

God is speaking to you just as He spoke to me. Will you choose to hush and hear Him? Will you choose to rise up and let Him speak through you? Will you choose to be his body, his hands, his feet?

God is speaking. Rise up!

Song of Sending

 

Sending Forth

Thank you for spending time with me here, today. Please accept this prayer and benediction.

“So you shall see, and stand in awe … at the salvation of the Lord.  And immediately, the Spirit drove Jesus out into the barren places.”

On this day our God has acted.
Rise up! Head out to the barren places!
Look around and see the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ
shining in your hearts
for all the world to see.

Amen

Small Group/Family/Self Study Opportunities:

Continue the discussions about how God speaks to you, and about finding ways to let God speak through you as well.

  • GCORR’s Lenten Biblical Reflection, Roll Down, Justice!, written by Faye Wilson and featuring the music and reflections of Mark A. Miller (From Lent 2017)