10 The crowds asked John, “What should we do?”
11 John told them, “If you have two coats, give one to someone who doesn’t have any. If you have food, share it with someone else.”
12 When tax collectors came to be baptized, they asked John, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 John told them, “Don’t make people pay more than they owe.”
14 Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us? What do we have to do?”
John told them, “Don’t force people to pay money to make you leave them alone. Be satisfied with your pay.”
15 Everyone became excited and wondered, “Could John be the Messiah?” 16 John said, “I am just baptizing with water. But someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to untie his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His threshing fork is in his hand, and he is ready to separate the wheat from the husks. He will store the wheat in his barn and burn the husks with a fire that never goes out.”
18 In many different ways John preached the good news to the people.
The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday” (from Latin, meaning “Rejoice!), because the “Entrance Antiphon” for this Sunday is taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Phil 4:4+5b)
In our Gospel passage for this Sunday, we find John the Baptist teaching the people some very practical lessons about giving. He tells them to share what they have with those who don’t have.
If you have an extra coat, give one to someone who doesn’t have a coat. The same with food. During this season each year we hear about and see the generosity of people so that those who are less fortunate will be able to have a good Christmas.
Whether it is the Cheer Fund, Salvation Army or any other worthy charity, we sense a great need to share what we have with others.
At our coffee store, downtown Greensburg, we have a box where people can give to a worthy project. This month we have chosen the Edelweiss House which is a ministry to families and is based right here in Decatur County.
I became aware of this ministry a few months ago and met it’s founder, Sister Pat, who I found to be a very conscientious servant of God. As she surrendered to the call of God to become a Nun, she also found those Spiritual gifts with which God has graced her. As I observed her interaction with some children, I found it amazingly refreshing to find this dear Nun who loves God and loves the people who come into her life.
I would say she is fulfilling what John the Baptist is explaining in today’s Gospel. There’s a song that has been sung in some African American churches where I have played the organ, “You can’t beat God giving, no matter how hard you try.”
During this Advent, seek out a need and give, even if it hurts, because it will if you haven’t practiced giving and, if you are a person in need, find someone to bless with what you do have and you will see how God will take your sacrificial gift and turn it into blessings for you.
On Dec. 20, this Thursday, we will open the collection box at the Coffee Store and I am anxious to see how people have responded to the needs of the Edelweiss House as there are always families who need the services of this valuable outreach to children. I invite you to come by 120 E. Washington Street and leave a gift for this special ministry. I receive nothing from this except the blessing of asking you to help.
As we continue with Advent, remember to pray, fast and do good deeds during this time of anticipation. Mary was filled with anticipation as she carried Jesus in her womb. Surely, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus” we read from the scriptures.
For sure Christmas is coming. We will celebrate the birth of our Lord and I pray you will keep His birth in mind as you celebrate the reason for this season.
Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-662-5154 or www.locindiana.info.
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