Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Deepening Our Awareness--Part 1

Sermon preached by Hawley Todd, TSSF, at the Grace Church Celebration of Wholeness and Healing Wednesday, January 9, 2013.

The Collect for the Day:  O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Welcome to Grace Church. Blessings and Grace to you.

Tonight we celebrate the Epiphany. Epiphany means a manifestation of the Divine. Another word for it is Theophany or a showing forth of Ultimate Reality. My hope and prayer is that every one of these services is a time of Epiphany for each and every one of us.

In particular the Christian Church has celebrated two events as especially showing forth of the Divine in the early life of Jesus.

The first which is often celebrated on Jan 6 is the coming of the wise men.

The second which is typically celebrated on the second Sunday in the season of Epiphany is the baptism of Jesus by John. That is when the heavens opened and God said to Jesus that he is God’s beloved in whom God is well pleased.

Interestingly, Western Christians put more emphasis on the coming of the wise men and Eastern Christianity tends to stress the baptism event.

Regardless of how Christians have celebrated the Epiphany, each of these services is an Opportunity for another epiphany for those of us gathered here tonight.

The presence of Christ is manifest in each and every one of us. That is essential to understand. We are all made and formed in the image of God. As one of the early Church fathers Irenaeus said “Jesus became who we are so that we could become who he is.” We are each called to manifest Christ.

And we are all the wise ones who find the presence of Christ made manifest in our brothers and sisters.

Yes we are simultaneously both the wise men and women and the Christ child. And we are the other characters in the story as well.

There is a wonderful dance that goes on here on Wednesday evenings. At one moment, we may be the drummer, another moment the person receiving love and healing, and then the next moment the person manifesting that love and healing to another. We flow from one role to another as the dance unfolds. And for me, that is the joy of the whole process. I never know what will happen. Yet I trust that God will be abundantly present and that each of us will be touched and blessed.

How is God being manifest in your life today? Where are the cutting edges of God’s activity? Are you being called to something new?

Many of us have been going through transformations lately. And I do believe that God/Spirit is being made manifest on earth in new and miraculous ways.

Yet in the season of Epiphany, when we think about how God is being made manifest in our lives, I invite you to consider how you might deepen your awareness of the Divine. How might you become more intentional about noticing what God is doing and where the Spirit is present in the here and now?

I will be preaching again on Sunday morning about deepening our awareness of God. Tonight I will have a Hindu/Christian slant. On Sunday it will be a Jewish/Buddhist/Christian perspective. And I am sure you each have your own equally valid perspectives!

Hinduism has one of my favorite scriptures which is known as the Bhagavad Gita. In it, Krishna instructs Arjuna concerning the spiritual life. Krishna explains that there are 3 primary ways, that one can approach the divine and grow in one’s sadhana/spiritual practice.

These are the 3 paths (yogas) of bhakti (love and devotion), karma (action and service) and jnana (wisdom – often translated as knowledge).

  1. We can be in relation with God through our love, worship and adoration. Apprehending and expensing God as the other.
  2. We can experience God in niskama karma – selfless service to our brothers and sisters.
  3. And we can experience “God within” through deep wisdom.

All are valid and all are good. And personally, I believe we are called to pursue all three in some ways in our lives. Yet that is for you to find for your Self and authentically allow to take shape in your particular circumstances.

However it may be, what I particularly want us to pay attention to tonight is the presence of God that we encounter in one another.

Take time to honor one another.

NAMASTE – “Reverence to you” is the literal translation from the Sanskrit.

I have heard many modern teachers give different spins as to what those words may mean. At least on one level, it means that we honor and bless the image of God that we encounter in our sister and brother.

Namaste – I see and honor the blessing of divine presence that you are.

Namaste – may you discover “Tat Tvam Asi” – that art thou.

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