4th December 2022

The sunrise of peace

One of my favorite sunrise experiences was on a beach in Florida. As I looked across the Atlantic Ocean, there was just a faint glimmer of light on the watery horizon. It started as a small pinpoint of light, and then as if by magic, it grew, painting the sky with pink, yellow, and orange. As the light became brighter, the seabirds seemed to wake up and come to life. A new day had started, and I was there to see it.

One thing I really appreciate about the sunrise each day is the gentleness of how the sun rises. It’s not like a switch is flipped and the full light of day floods our homes, startling us out of our sleep. The sun rises slowly, peacefully, urging us to have hope for this new day.

Maybe you’ve had a special sunrise experience, too. Sunrise is a familiar metaphor, one often used to show the start of something new. In the Bible, the priest Zechariah recognized a “sunrise” moment when his son, John the Baptist, was born. If you remember the story, the elderly Zechariah couldn’t speak until John was born because he doubted the angel’s announcement that he and his likewise elderly wife Elizabeth would have a child.

When John was born, Zechariah prophesied about this child’s role in making people ready for the “mighty savior” Jesus, who would come through King David’s descendants:

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79 NRSV).

John the Baptist would make the people ready for the glory of God with us through Jesus’ arrival. God showed his mercy by gently moving people toward the possibility that true worship could be more than following the legalistic customs of the day.

Just as the sunrise begins slowly, with just a glimmer, so John the Baptist was that glimmer of God’s mercy and peace to those who were without hope, sitting “in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

The next time you’re awake for a sunrise, think of God’s gentle mercy that moves all of us toward the way of peace and hope. Watch with patience for that glimmer of light on the horizon, see the pinks and yellows grow, and notice how the birds lift their morning songs of praise.

Let us remember the hope of Jesus’ ultimate return and recognize God’s gentle, peaceful guidance each day.

Presented by Michelle Fleming

About the presenter:
Michelle Fleming is an elder in Grace Communion International and works in the International Home Office in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA as Communications Director.
The Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. 

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