Hawley Todd TSSF
Minister of Christ Healing
Episcopal Healing Ministries
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:
He has told you, O mortal, what
For the past several decades it has been the passage from Philippians we read today.
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.
[The scriptures for the third Sunday in Advent follow]
Episcopal Healing Ministries + Christ Church Cathedral
318 East Fourth Street + Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 + email: firstname.lastname@example.org