“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1
That verse is kind of the second part of a story. The first part is dark, but I will get to that in a bit.
2018 has been a bright year for the Kimray family. It feels like light has come. For many of you, this is your first time to attend this Christmas Party. The average tenure of our team members now is about 5 years. Before the downturn it was around 10. At our lowest point we were down to 357 people, whereas now we have well over 800, more than double. So if this is your first Christmas with the Kimray family, welcome.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but the story I want to tell you tonight happen about a thousand years before that. It’s a sad story, but hopefully you’ll see my point.
There was a man named David who was the King of Israel. Israel is the name for both the people of God in that time, and the land they lived in. David was a good king, and God himself said that David had a heart that belonged to God.
Once, while the army was at war, David decided to stay home. This was unusual, but not technically “wrong.” So, David was in the palace one day and decided to take a walk on the roof. From this vantage point he could see down onto the roofs of the houses surrounding the palace and into private spaces that would be hidden from all other views. And he does. He sees a woman of exceptional beauty named Bathsheba taking a bath. He sends a messenger to get her and bring her to his palace.
He sleeps with her.
She gets pregnant.
David is now in the middle of a scandal. Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, is one of David’s mighty men. Uriah is off at war, where David should have been, so the child cannot be his. Unless…David calls Uriah back from the battle hoping he will sleep with his wife while he is home, but he doesn’t sleep at home out of respect for the men still at the front. So, David orders the commander of the troops to place Uriah in a dangerous position and then withdraw so he will be killed. The plan works, and with Uriah dead, David takes Bathsheba to be his wife.
One day, Nathan, a prophet of the Lord and one of David’s trusted friends and advisors comes to see David. He tells David a story about two men, a wealthy man and a poor man, who live next door to each other. The rich man had many flocks, but the poor man had nothing but one little lamb. He raised that lamb and it grew up with his kids, eating from his own plate and drinking from his cup. One day a guest arrived at the rich man’s house. Instead of taking an animal from his own flock, the rich man took the lamb from his poor neighbor, killed it, and prepared it for his guest.
At this point, David is furious. He tells Nathan this man deserves to die for what he has done.
Then Nathan tells David, “You are that man.”
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” That verse in Isaiah 60 comes after a lot of really dark stuff, including the example I just shared about David. Isaiah 59 says the people’s hands are stained with blood, their lips have spoken falsely, there is no justice, and no one has integrity. Lying gives birth to evil. There is violence in their hands and they shed innocent blood. They do not know peace or justice.
Does this sound familiar to you? You could get most of that straight from today’s headlines.
The transition from darkness in Isaiah 59 to the light we see at the beginning of Isaiah 60 happens at the end of chapter 59. It says the Lord saw that no one was capable to intervene, so His own arm achieves salvation. He says He will not depart from them and that His spirit will stay with them.
Then we see the light. The light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises on them.
When I read the headlines and I see the news stories I sometimes respond like David did to Nathan’s story. I am angry. I want justice. I want someone to pay for all the evil that is being done.
But like David, I realize I am that man.
Jesus said that if I hate in my heart, I have committed murder. If I lust, I have committed adultery. That my tongue, by its very nature, is a liar. All have sinned. I am guilty. You are guilty. We all are guilty.
That’s bad, but it gets worse. Like in Isaiah, we are not capable of getting better. None of us can intervene for ourselves or for anyone else. The Bible describes us as lost, sick, blind, and dead. Not very useful or self-sufficient I would say.
So, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In Romans 5 the Bible says that while I was powerless, God did what I could not do. In an amazing demonstration of perfect love, while I was still His enemy, Christ died for me. I have been saved from myself and from my sin, not by anything I did or deserved, but by a gift born out of love from the God who created me.
Now there is hope for this world we live in. There is a light that is Rising, and we are part of that light. Just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, we are supposed to love others. And as Christ’s love for us was undeserved, our love for others is not based on their worthiness, but on the fact that they too were created by and are loved by God.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. A light that came into the world to save you and me. A gift. Undeserved and unearned.
The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas is in recognition of the greatest gift of all. We honor that tradition at Kimray by giving everyone in the Kimray family a gift.
Money is nice. It is necessary even. However, the real gift of this season is the love of Christ displayed through His death and resurrection for our salvation. If you haven’t received that gift, I would love to talk with you about my experience with the love and grace of God. You can also talk to our Chaplain or any of the executives at Kimray.
Finally, I would encourage you to give as you have received. Grant those around you the grace and love that God gives you. In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” We are here to be the light in a world of darkness. Don’t hide that light or keep it to yourselves. Arise and shine.