As we reach the end of a difficult year, uncertain of what lies ahead, I can think of few better ways to call us to press on this Christmas than the emboldening words of the prophet Isaiah: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.” (Isaiah 60:1 – 2)

Perhaps, like many of us, you’ve been in a season of gradual hibernation as the news headlines have worn away at you. Discouragement has slowly but surely weighed many of us down, causing us to sit down where previously we may have stood. This scripture from Isaiah speaks so clearly into our situation: arise”. As the church, it’s time we refused to be intimidated. Let us arise, stand tall, use the authority and boldness that God has given to us, and bring Jesus’ light and life to our communities this Christmas.

In Hebrew, shine means to stand out, to make a difference”. Essentially, the prophet Isaiah’s words arise’ and shine’ are a call to stand up’ and stand out’. The sight of churches all around the country standing out, moving in unison and illuminating their communities pleases the heart of God, and it’s also a huge encouragement to us as His people. It’s like a thousand phone torches lighting up the darkness of a concert crowd. It is especially pleasing to Him when He sees our earthly unity modelling the richness of diversity and ethnic expression – all that His kingdom was originally destined to be.

Throughout this year, I’ve loved hearing stories like the one in this article about a church that was in poor repair and hardly used. Now used in local response to the coronavirus pandemic, however, it has been transformed into a crucial hub for the community. One more light flickers on.


I know there are hundreds more stories like this from around the country. They lead us to reflect on how we can stand up and stand out over the Christmas season and beyond. I believe a key area where we can arise and shine is in reaching out to those who feel lonely. In Psalm 68:6 King David states that God sets the solitary in families” and we are the mechanism by which He does that. We know that we serve a God who leaves the 99 to pursue the one. In light of ever-changing guidelines, how do we improvise and adapt so that no one is forgotten in our communities? I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing that we are having to be more and more creative in order to reach the last, the least and the lost.

Could some of your church’s annual Christmas budget be reallocated to benefit people living on their own or from a specific community that God has laid on your heart as a church? Who have we forgotten, maybe just because they seem different to us or don’t speak our language? Could your church write Christmas cards to people in their mother tongue? Google Translate is on hand to help. You could even find someone that speaks the language to help you film a special Christmas greeting to send them. Small acts like this could have a tremendous impact on those who may feel isolated from their family or alienated due to language barriers this Christmas.

And as hard as it is, let’s avoid comparing our church’s response to that of others. Let’s avoid saying, If only we had more budget or different skills.” Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on your community and the benefit of local knowledge. God has put you and your church within your community for such a time as this. None of this is a surprise to Him. Instead, in this season it is crucial that we are all simply running in our lane, serving our communities however they need us to, and spreading Jesus’ light in whatever ways He calls us to.

Like the prison officer in Acts 16 when he discovered Paul and Silas had escaped out of their cell, so many people are confused, fearful and calling for the light in this season. May each of us hear the calls and stand up and stand out. Let’s light up our communities for Jesus this Christmas.

No matter what Christmas looks like this year, you can make Jesus known in your community. We’ve created a Christmas leaders’ pack to help you to reach out safely and meaningfully in this time of the pandemic. Find out more and download yours here.