Arise and Shine: what an illuminating resolution this is as we enter a new decade. The brevity with which Isaiah 60:1 encapsulates the core faith vocation of the followers of Jesus is perfect. There is simply no wriggle room, obfuscation or space for doubt as to what is required of God’s people of light. God’s two-word graffiti of grace is spray painted across the surfaces of contemporary Britain, challenging Christians to action wherever we see it:
So what are we to make of the command to ‘Arise’ ? The very word sounds so irredeemably twee and passé, much more likely to evoke thoughts of Walt Disney’s ‘Sword in the Stone’ than of the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Yet what is being asked of us is nothing less than a popular uprising; strong stuff indeed. And of course the light of God’s revolutionary love in Jesus enlightens us to a different manner of uprising to that of armed insurrection and bloodshed, a way of non-violence epitomised in the twentieth century by Gandhi and exemplified by Jesus himself. As we face the combined threats of climate change, financial meltdown, peak oil and food security I think we have already seen the power of popular 'uprising' pointing the way ahead. In particular we can look to the impact on global political strategy of Jubilee 2000 and the subsequent ‘drop the debt’ and ‘make poverty history’ campaigns. People power works. In a democracy such as ours the voice of the people has to be heard – and I don’t mean focus groups. People of faith are called to arise and protest against injustice, unfairness, violence and oppression wherever and whenever it is found. We are called to arise and hold those responsible to account, not tut with indignation from the safety of the sidelines, and to be constructively part of the solution. To arise means putting our heads above the parapet and getting actively involved with God’s kingdom of love agenda.
We are to arise, and shine. Not glimmer, flicker or glow, but shine with all the radiant intensity of God’s radical love in Jesus Christ, made manifest amongst the neglected, written off and discarded ones of the world. Shine with all the awesome brightness of God’s glory which is good news for the poor. The faith imperative is that our lives should shine brightly with love as luminous beacons of hope in these dark times. As we embark upon this new decade the wax of good religious intention needs to soften and melt and fuel the flame of our discipleship. Arise, Shine, is one resolution we have to keep.