Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
6 Dec. 2015, Advent 2 Year C: Malachi 3:1-5; Canticle 16; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
If I use this Christmas tree-shaped cookie cutter on a batch of dough, what will the cookies most likely resemble?
If we could ony make Christmas-tree shaped cookies the holiday season could seem uncreative.
This cookie cutter holds 5 different shapes at once & has 10 different attachments, including angel, star, stable & king. This cutter's variety may help us see that God calls us to creative living & serving the world in Jesus' name through the power of the Holy Spirit that manifests in each of us as the Holy Spirit chooses.
Notice the variety of choices we have made for gift-giving in these items we will ask God to bless. We are one Body of Christ with many parts. God creates us this way & calls us to be our unique selves.
To begin our meetings, your Vestry acknowledges our uniqueness in our responsive devotional1 that uses the analogy of the human body. We say: God gives us work to do & calls us to use our talents for each other & the world. Like our bodies being one body with many different parts as God creates us, even the parts that seem least important are valuable. If one part hurts, we hurt all over. If one part does well, the whole body benefits.
YOU are important. God calls us to work together & to care about each other. We are more than a single cookie-cutter image of God, whose righteousness we are called to live into & to express in our lives to produce a harvest of righteousness. How do we produce this harvest? Philippians tells us: through Jesus Christ. Why are we to do this? Philippians tells us: For the glory & praise of God, who creates us uniquely. The Holy Spirit guides us in our unique work of sharing God's love.
God's love is filled with righteousness that today's scriptures emphasize. Righteousness straightens what's crooked & smooths what's rough.
God's love that flows over us in the water of Baptism gives us new birth.
God's love works through us & on us to refine us to respond, to do the work God calls each to do – our unique ministry in Jesus' name.
We see unique ministries in our scriptures today in 3 men, Malachi, Zachariah, & John the Baptizer. John serves as God's messenger in his day & time. We know his call came in the wilderness. How did he experience that call?
We know his dad, Zachariah, whose song we read, responded uniquely to God's call that came when Zachariah was serving in the temple. We know by reading Malachi, whose name is from a Hebrew expression meaning “my messanger”, that he responded uniquely in his day to be God's messenger.2
God calls each of us to be our unique selves in this fully functioning Body of Christ.
In all of creation, there is only one you,
my Beloved Brother, you, my Beloved Sister.
You are essential to & a blessed part of this Body,
What does your response to God's call look like? How do you serve in your unique role in this happening place where we live God's love?
With your unique gift, you help us live into the prayer we read in Philippians 1 verse 9, which some of us include in emails & pray daily. We say “our” & “us” instead of “your” & “you”, as we pray:
That our love may overflow more & more with
knowledge & full insight to
help us determine what is best.
This verse helps us to live into St. John's being “A happening community where we live God’s love”, where we help a child of God break free from cookie-cutter living to grow into the unique, blessed child God intends for that beloved brother, that beloved sister to be so that God's love may overflow more & more in the human family.
Grenz, Staney J. David Guretzki. Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1999.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Paul J. Achtemeier. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1985.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/patronal-service-abbotswood/. Accessed: 6 Dec. 2014.
http://vicarbill.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/devotions-for-congregation-leadership/ Accessed: 6 Dec. 2013.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
1 http://vicarbill.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/devotions-for-congregation-leadership/ Accessed: 6 Dec. 2013.
2 The New American Bible for Catholics P. 991 notes the name Malachi is from a Hebrew expression meaning “My Messanger”.