Rise and Shine

January 14,  2018 | Isaiah 60: 1-6 | Reverend Nancy Talbot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Meditation: Close your eyes and imagine a great white warm ball of light shining at the top of the sanctuary, in the center of the room.
Imagine that light is the light of Christ, the light of unconditional love, compassion, grace and power so strong no darkness will ever ove1iake it. Now imagine you are pulling a beam of that light down from the top of the room and into the top of your head. Keep drawing it down, seeing it in your imagination, feeling its warmth inside you, filling your entire body until it is flowing right out the bottom of your feet. Draw it back up through your body and out the top of your head until you are connected to the great light at the top of the room. Then pull it down again bringing it through your head, your shoulders and into your heart. Hold that light in your heart and imagine it is radiating out of you.
Now listen again to the first five verses of this morning’s reading once again:
Arise; shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of God has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples;
but God will arise upon you,
and God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and rulers to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather they come to you; your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be ca1Tied on their nurses’ arms.
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.

Those words, composed around 2500 years ago, are said to have been first spoken by the prophet Isaiah to encourage the people of Israel who after generations of living in exile in Babylon had returned to the city of Jerusalem expecting to reclaim their promised land. With great hope for the future, they came and were greeted instead with economic uncertainty, social discord and great hardship. Their temple, destroyed by foreign invaders, was in need of rebuilding and the process of that rebuilding had led
to fractures within their community and corruption among their leaders. People were dispirited and dismayed.

Into all that darkness, the prophet Isaiah invited them to reflect the light of God, to stand in an imagined future in which suffering would end and honor would be restored. To look up and see the light of God shining all around them, to envision that light within themselves. He implored them to call forward the future they desired, to attract the abundance of both the physical and spiritual world, simply by reflecting the sacred light within them and noticing the light around them.

Unlike the people of ancient Israel, we are not returning from political and physical exile. We’re returning from the season of Christmas, which has merely displaced us from our regular routines. But as we have, been returning to life as usual we may be feeling a similar kind of discouragement as the people of Israel.

Christmas, with its promise of peace and goodwill for all people and the spirit of generosity and kindness that tends to prevail throughout the holidays, followed by the fresh start of the New Year can leave us expecting great things from ourselves and our world this time of year. Our reality can be quite different.

While I was vacationing this week, my inbox was quickly filling up with a flurry of emails from concerned colleagues responding to proposed changes to the structures of the national church that many believe will put the future of the United church in BC at risk. Across the nation, people are digging out of one of the coldest winters on record as we continue to ignore the peril in which we are placing out planet with our overconsumption. South of the border President Trump is still spouting racist rhetoric. As I got on the plane to come home from Ft. Myers on Friday afte1noon I turned to my family and said “say goodbye to the sunshine, we might not see her again for another 6 months”
It’s enough to make me want to go back to bed, pull up the covers and wait for spring to come. And yet the imperative of the prophet Isaiah is to get out of bed, put on the clothes of faith and trust and radiate hope. Somehow, he says, doing this will attract and generate even more hope and possibility.

Over the years, there’s been a few wise sayings I have returned to over and over again my life: Taking care of yourself is taking care of others; children who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways; and one of my favourites: pray for what you need and act as if it has already been given.

That’s what the prophet Isaiah seems to be saying to the people of Israel despairing about the state of their temple and their nation as they return from exile: live as if the future you have been promised is happening right now.
Do it by lifting up our eyes and seeing, taking notice of the ways God is already at work in the world and then reflecting that outwards.

What if, in these dark winter days, we began each day not just by imagining the light of Christ filling our bodies and then radiating that light out as we did in our opening meditation. What if, we began each day even before we get out of bed, taking notice of the ways our bodies have done what they needed to do throughout the night, while we were sleeping with absolutely no effort on our behalf. What if we noticed the way our hearts have kept beating and our stomachs have worked at digesting our food and how even our hair has been growing and our skin, cells have been regenerating? What if we began each day with gratitude for what has already been freely given to us while we’ve been doing nothing? (At least not consciously)

What if we were intentional about lifting our eyes each day to take note of the power and the glory of justice, love and grace already present in our world? I don’t know about you, but at the end of2017, I was more than ready to say goodbye to the year and get started on a new one. There were so many things that happened in 2017 that left me feeling discouraged both on a national and inte1national level and even on a professional and personal level. There were mass shootings, natural disasters and increasing global tensions; friends and family, members of our faith community with cancer diagnoses; staffing challenges here at the church, changes in the structure of the national church and lots of other difficulties. And yet, looked at through another lens, 2017 was full of all kinds of achievements and wonders.
People marched in the streets against racism, women found their voice

thousands donated money and offered practical support for victims of hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes and terrorist attacks, we came together to watch the solar eclipse and here in our own community we prayed for one another and knit prayer shawls and sent cards and emails and raised money and collected socks and hoodies for the people of First United and the Youth Safe House, we cared for customers and volunteers in the thrift shop and tried just to be good to one another. We proclaimed each week that everyone is welcome, started a mental health peer support group. We let our light shine. It’s all a matter of perspective.

In the words of the prophet Isaiah, the glory of God has arisen upon us. When we radiate God’s love, justice, and peace, we attract more love, justice and peace.

Darkness covers the earth. Thick darkness covers the peoples, but the promise of our faith is that the sacred fire of love and life continues to rise in the midst of it all. The more we take notice of it, the more we trust and believe in it, the more we rise and shine, the brighter it shines

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE:

Radiant One, shine your light upon us, open our eyes to seeing and claiming the many gifts you so generously give, those we can see in plain sight and those obscured by clouds and darkness but with grace we can detect with our hearts and souls.
Give us the courage and conviction to stand firmly in our imagined future as we continue to live into this New Year, to give ourselves to the work of peace and justice in our world and compassion and grace with ourselves and with those close by. Give us wise and discerning hearts to know the paths that lead to greater truth and greater love. Illuminate the shadowed places in our own lives that we might allow them to be transformed.
While we lament the ways our world continues to embrace violence and oppression, we celebrate the way the light of love and life points us towards the possibility of peace that can be achieved, poverty that can be overcome, leaders that can direct our nations with wisdom, and healing and reconciliation that can be experienced.
And so we pray for our world made new…. for the care of all creation, for hope for those who are despairing and for wholeness for all whose lives have been torn apart by illness and hurt, by being made poor, by division and conflict, by the effects of what seems like never ending natural disasters.
We celebrate the many ways we have seen your light shining in new Canadians settling into their homes, in those marching in the streets in the name of dignity for all, in small and random acts of kindness we experience from day to day. We celebrate the support people experience here through our ministry and the ways what we do in this place ripples out into the community around us.
We celebrate those who health has been improving in these days and pray for those who are in still need of healing and renewal… we name before you those people and places for whom we have particular and ongoing concern…people of Syria, Palestine and Israel… Meg Clarke who is undergoing chemotherapy

Weekly Service

10:00 AM - approx. 11:15 am Sundays
Join us for coffee, tea, and visiting after the service.

Children & Youth Programs available.
Communion: First Sunday of every month. All ages or faith traditions welcome.
Intergenerational services: Approximately once a month. Children are invited to stay for the whole worship service.

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Mt Seymour United Church
1200 Parkgate Ave
North Vancouver, BC V7H 2X9

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Contact Us

Phone: 604-929-1336
Rev. Nancy's Private Phone: 604-929-4114
Email: mtsuc@shaw.ca

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