____________________________________________________________________________

 

Home    Invitation    Ministries    Formation    Homily    Who Are We?    Resources

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Hawley Todd TSSF

Executive Director

Minister of Christ Healing

 

Episcopal Healing Ministries

 

todd@episcopalhealing.org

www.episcopalhealing.org

513-967-6581

 

Pleasant Hill Hermitage

P.O. Box 14

Miamiville, Ohio 45147

________________________________________________________

Healing  Services are conducted  by Hawley Todd at Grace Church, Cincinnati once a month on the second Sunday at 10 am.  However, for those around the world who do not have a healing service to attend, we wish to present more opportunities for learning and experiencing the healing gifts of Christ available to each one of you who are reading this plea.  

________________________________________________________ 

 

3rd Sunday in Advent, Dec. 16, 2012 at Grace Episcopal Church

 

Best Gift of All

 

(Open with prayer invoking the presence of the Holy Spirit.)

 

Welcome to Grace Church

 

Today is the third Sunday in Advent.  Liturgically we sit poised between the beginning of a New Year (Advent) and the birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas).

 

Christmas Day is in just 9 days.

 

Are you ready for Christ to be born anew into the World, the Church, into your life?

 

Traditionally, Advent has been seen as a time of preparation, a time to take stock of one's life, and get one's "house" in order.

 

As we reflect on our lives, let me ask you a few questions.

 

What passage from Scripture grabs you the most? What passage resonates with your soul? Or let me put it another way. If God was calling to you from Scripture, what passage would He be using?

 

When I was a young man in my 20's and 30's, it was Micah 6:8. It goes like this:

 

Micah 6:8  He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?

 

For the past several decades it has been the passage from Philippians we read today.

 

Philippians 4:4-7
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So take a few moments.  What Scripture or Scriptures come to your heart and mind?

(Give them silence to process)

Take those words with you.  Chew on them.  Meditate upon them. Let them soak into the deepest parts of your being.

 

Let me ask you a different question about Scripture. With what person or character in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament do you most resonate?

 

Think about your life and think about the characters you know in Scripture.  Who are you like?  Who resonates with you?

 

I am a little embarrassed to say that I most resonate with Elijah. And especially with a story about Elijah that I expect most of you have never noticed.

 

Elijah had just had the biggest "God Moment" of his life. He had been in a contest with the prophets of Baal and God had worked mightily through him on Mt Carmel. And what does Elijah do? He gets scared and runs off into the desert to escape Jezebel and the hornet's nest that he had stirred up. He collapses in the desert and asks God to just let it all end. Yet God feeds him and tells him to get up and get on with God's work. I am sad to tell you but I totally relate to Elijah.

 

So who is it that resonates with you?

 

John the Baptist? Elizabeth? Isaac? Jacob? Esau? Ruth? Jezebel? Peter? Paul? The rich young man? Saul? Hagar?

 

With whom do you connect?

 

Okay, let me ask you a different question.

 

When our culture looks at the Christian Church does it see and encounter John the Baptist or Jesus of Nazareth?

 

Or how about Grace Episcopal Church in College Hill - does it reflect John or Jesus?

 

Look at our reading from Scripture.

 

Some of what John says reminds me very much of Jesus.  They are both concerned with caring for others and living authentic lives.

 

Yet John seems to have a much angrier edge to him.

 

Even more profound though is the comparison John made between himself and Jesus.

 

Luke 3:16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

 

Jesus baptizes us with fire and the Holy Spirit.

 

It is the Holy Spirit being active in our lives and ministries that reveals, manifests, incarnates the presence of Jesus.

 

Irenaeus said that Jesus became who we are so that we could become what he is.

As followers of Jesus, as ambassadors of Jesus to the world, are we not to show forth Jesus?

 

And what did Jesus do?

 

He cared for the poor and those who were marginal.

 

He healed and blessed those in need.

 

He showed forth the kingdom of God.

 

And what did his disciples do?

 

They did what Jesus did?

 

And he empowered them to do so by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

What better gift could any of us want for Christmas?

 

So pray for me and I will pray for you that we might each be filled and blessed anew with the Holy Spirit fully active and empowering in each of our lives.

 

Let us pray!

 

[The scriptures for the third Sunday in Advent follow]

 

Isaiah 12:2-6
12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

12:3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

12:4 And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.

12:5 Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.

12:6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Philippians 4:4-7
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18
3:7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

3:9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

3:10 And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?"

3:11 In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

3:12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?"

3:13 He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you."

3:14 Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

3:18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________

Episcopal Healing Ministries + Christ Church Cathedral

318 East Fourth Street  +  Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 + email: info@episcopalhealing.org