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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 18, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 25, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Third Sunday of Easter – April 18, 2010

Third Sunday of Easter Year C RCL April 18, 2010
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19
Saul heads down the road to Damascus with murder in his heart. He has even gotten official sanction to persecute the followers of Jesus. Suddenly a light flashes from heaven, and Saul falls to the ground. There is a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord,” Saul asks. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up, enter the city, and you will be told what to do.” Saul has to be led by the hand into Damascus.
 
For three days, he is blind, in the dark. He neither eats nor drinks. Three days, like Jesus in the tomb. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Three days. Enough to go from death to new life. Enough to be transformed.A life transformed. A life whose direction changes from hatred to love.

Jesus calls Ananias to go and lay hands on Saul. But Ananias has heard of this man who kills Christians. He really does not want to help Saul. Jesus assures Ananias that this man, who has devoted his life to persecuting the followers of Christ, has been chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And so, Ananias goes and lays healing hands on Saul, and Saul receives his sight, new vision, and he also receives the Holy Spirit.

Like all of us, Saul, now become Paul, has his flaws and weaknesses. But he goes forward from that day, through shipwreck, imprisonment, beatings, his own experiences of persecution, to spread the good news to the known world. Like Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees, Paul planted churches. All because of his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus.

Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and two others not named are fishing on the Sea of Galilee. After the shock of Jesus’ death, thinking it is all over, they have gone back home, back to what they know. They fish all night and catch nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus is standing on the beach, but they do not recognize him. He calls to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” He knows the situation. So he tells them to cast to the right side, and, sure enough, the net is full to bursting. John intuitively knows it is Jesus. Peter puts some clothes on and jumps into the water. He is so eager to get to Jesus. Typical Peter. Impulsive and full of love. The rest of them come in the boat, dragging the loaded net.

When they get to shore, there he is, with a charcoal fire going. There are fish cooking on the fire, and there is bread for them to eat. Just waiting for them, almost casually, as if there had been no Cross and Easter. Jesus has cooked them breakfast. It is almost as if nothing had happened, but a great deal has happened, and he has come through it all. He is risen. And he is here. He asks them to bring something to the meal. He asks them to contribute their gifts. “Bring some of the fish you have just caught,” Jesus tells them. This is very important. This is a mutual thing. This is one of the birth scenes of mutual ministry, baptismal ministry. This is where it all began, with Jesus and the apostles.

“Come and have breakfast, ” he says. They share a simple meal. He takes the bread and gives it to them, and does the same with the fish. They know it is he. They have gone from a night of discouragement, a night of no fish, to a net brim full. Because of him. He is leading the way to new life.

Then comes one of the most moving and significant dialogues in the gospels. He turns to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” And Peter says, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus says, “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” Then a third time Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter is hurt that Jesus is asking yet again, but he answers, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” And Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”

In Hebrew thought, the number three signifies completion. Peter denied Jesus three times, Now, when Jesus asks Peter whether he loves him, Peter answers three times. Complete denial is forgiven, healed and transformed into complete loyalty and love. Peter will become the leader of the apostles.

We have all known discouragement, like the night of no fish. We also know what it is like to be in the presence of the risen Christ and to hear his guidance and follow it. Everything changes. We know the spiritual abundance that comes when we follow Christ. We know the difference in our lives when we turn from our own ways as Saul did and are given new life. We know the forgiveness and healing which our Lord gives to us and to others.

We have seen the risen Christ. We have gone to that shore where he was sitting quietly waiting, with the fire already built and the fish already cooked. We have been so glad to see him again. The word is spreading that he is risen and people have seen him, but to see him ourselves and to eat with him—and the net full of fish. Well, it is all true.

And he is calling us to spread the good news, to share the healing and joy of new life in him. And he feeds us, with fish cooked over the fire and with himself, the bread of heaven.

And he calls us to be his body, to feed his lambs, his sheep, his flock. May we look at others through his discerning and compassionate eyes, seeing the potential in every precious person. May we reach out to others with his healing and welcoming hands. May we embrace others with his loving arms.

 Amen.

Second Sunday of Easter – April 11, 2010

Easter 2C RCL April 11, 2010
Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 150
Revelation 1:4-8
John 20:19-31
 

 

Jesus comes right through locked doors, through their fear, through their discouragement, through everything. There he stands. The wounds are there, and he is alive. “Peace be with you,” he says. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathes on them, the breath of the same Spirit that brooded over the face of the waters at creation. He gives them peace, shalom, and he gives them the ministry of reconciliation.
Thomas was not there. They tell him they have seen the risen Lord, but he cannot believe it. He says he is going to have to see the marks of the nails in Jesus’ hands, that he is actually going to have to touch those wounds—before he can believe.

A week later, Jesus comes back. Again he says “Shalom.” He gives them his peace. He invites Thomas to touch his wounds. It is not clear from the text whether Thomas actually touched those wounds or not. He bursts forth in that powerful prayer of adoration: “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas has seen Jesus, and Jesus is very much alive. That’s enough for Thomas. But our Lord gives another wonderful blessing. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” I suppose that would mean us.

We have not actually stood in that room with the disciples and seen Jesus. Yet somehow we believe. I think that is because each of us has encountered our risen Lord in many ways, sometimes in corporate worship, sometimes in personal prayer, sometimes out in nature, where the presence of God is so clearly revealed in the beauty of creation, sometimes in conversation with another person, in which the love and forgiveness of Christ is clearly expressed.

And this story is so powerful it is easy to feel as if we are actually there. I think we can identify with Thomas. We like to see things for ourselves. We don’t necessarily like to take someone else’s word for something until we have the facts before us. We live in a scientific age.

And there he is, clearly himself, with the wounds and all, most definitely alive, and somehow looking indefinably different, but—alive. So we have seen, and we have not literally seen, with them, in that room, or on the road to Emmaus, or on the beach, and yet we know that he is alive. We believe in him, along with millions of people who have believed over the years.

He has given us this ministry of reconciliation. This ministry comes out of his peace, his shalom, his kingdom of harmony. Shalom and reconciliation involve the bringing together of opposites, the bringing together of the whole creation into harmony and health and wholeness. That’s the ministry he has given us. A very tall order.

The ministry of reconciliation is, I think, deeply connected to the idea of touching our Lord’s wounds, for, when we realize that he has taken into himself every wound ever inflicted, infinitely into the past and infinitely into the future, from the murder of Abel to the martyrdom of Stephen to Auschwitz and beyond, and that he has brought all of that death and pain together into his loving and healing self and has transformed that and healed that and forgiven that and turned it into new life and has called us to share that reconciliation with everyone and with the whole creation, it is a staggering thought.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “By entering into the experience of the cross, God took the [humanly]-made wreckage of the world inside [Godself] and labored with it—a long labor, almost three days—and [God] did not let go of it until [God] could transform it and return it to us as life. That is the power of a suffering God, not to prevent pain but to redeem it, by going through it with us.” (God in Pain, p. 118)

The wise and revered Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “To reconcile conflicting parties, we must have the ability to understand the suffering of both sides. If we take sides, it is impossible to do the work of reconciliation. And humans want to take sides. That is why the situation gets worse and worse. Are there people who are still available to both sides? They need not do much. They need do only one thing: go to one side and tell about the suffering endured by the other side, and go to the other side and tell about the suffering endured by this side. This is our chance for peace. That can change the situation. But how many of us are able to do that?

Touching the wounds of Christ helps us to walk in the shoes of the person on the other side, helps us to live in the skin of the person we see as an adversary. And, when we do this, when we hear how it is for the other person, then we begin to understand, then we begin to walk down the road of forgiveness, then we become one in Christ.

May we, with God’s grace, be faithful to the ministry of reconciliation.

Amen.

 

Easter Sunday RCL April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday RCL April 4, 2010

Acts 10:34-43

Psalm 118:1-2:14-24

1Corinthians 15:19-26

Luke 24_1-12

It is that mysteriously ambiguous time just before dawn. The night has been dark, and at times you wondered whether there would be a dawn, but now you can see the faint glow of it in the east. It isn’t as though you haven’t sat up nights before—praying, for certain, and worrying.

But now, it’s really over. Gradually you and the others had realized that his Way went far beyond the power of politics and earthly notions of power. It went right to the core of people’s lives. And you watched as he set people’s hearts on fire, healed them. Gave them real, solid hope for the first time in their lives. Just think–all that happening in Galilee, a little out of the way place. With him in our midst, we knew we mattered. We felt so close to God. Well, of course—God was in the midst of us, walking with us, giving us a smile when we needed it, mending our wounded places, stirring our hearts, giving us a vision of a totally different kind of kingdom.

But then he had to go to Jerusalem. There was no choice. He was so stubborn. Why not hide out on the hills of Galilee and keep on doing his work quietly? No, he had to go. And once he got there–well, there’s no use thinking about that now.

It’s over. You feel like lead as you trudge around the last corner. Dread seeps into your stomach at the thought of seeing that beloved body dead.

You get there, and the stone has been rolled away. His body is not there. Two men, two pulsating figures of light tell us that he is risen. They remind us of what he said, that he would be crucified and he would rise again.

And you are running to find the others. Just when hope was gone—and then you realize that, even if you had not seen him with your own eyes, still, you would have had to believe, because of everything he said, everything he was. Is.

And you know to the core of your being that he has transformed every death into life, every brokenness into wholeness. Everything is touched and transformed by his infinitely gentle, courageous, relentless love, by that insistent justice that treats lepers and beggars as if they were kings and queens, that disturbing justice that condemns only those who insist on condemning others, that justice which says that even Samaritans aren’t outcasts. There are no outcasts.

In the holy and hope-filled light of this Easter morning, when the light of Christ overcomes all darkness forever, we proclaim that Christ is risen. And, as we make that proclamation, we realize, more profoundly each day, that we are joined with him, that we are parts of him, that we are his risen Body. We are members of his body, hands and feet, eyes and ears. We are therefore called to extend his quality of life to a world much in need of love, and to people much in need of love, and to each other.

What we have promised in baptism and prayed for in gathered community is not business as usual. Being members of his Body—ministers by virtue of our baptisms—places us in a new world, a new realm, a different dimension that is growing right in the midst of this tired old one, growing just like yeast making the bread rise—a new dawn, God’s new creation, transforming us, transforming the world.

Christ is risen. Alleluia!

Good Friday April 2, 2010

Good Friday April 2, 2010

Immanuel, God with us, has come among us and has lived with us and has shared a message of hope and love with us and has healed us and taught us.

In the garden, with everyone falling asleep and abandoning him when he was pleading with them to stay awake and pray with him, Jesus agonized over his choice. “Father, let this cup pass from me. Not my will, but thine, be done.” And so, the Eternal Word endures a mock trial, has a crown of thorns thrust upon his head, and goes through humiliation after humiliation, culminating in his crucifixion, a punishment which privileged persons would never have to endure, a death reserved for the lowest of the low.

Jesus surrenders in total trust, with a great deal of struggle to be sure, just as we struggle when we know we have to let go and let God. God pours out God’s life in order to open the way to a new way of living for all of us. The letting go, the surrender, the death, is the only way to something radically new and transformative.

That God would even come to be with us tells us of infinite love. But that God would go through the journey of Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and Holy Saturday truly carries the level of that love beyond our capacity to even imagine.

God loves us with infinite care. God has done this for us. God has done this for you and for me. God has done this for this family at Grace and for the whole human family.

May we open our hearts and spirits to this love, which is so broad and so deep, this love which heals and makes us whole, this love which heals and makes the entire creation whole.

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

Maundy Thursday April 1, 2010 Year C RCL

Maundy Thursday April 1, 2010 Year C RCL

Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the eternal Word who called the creation into being, washes the feet of his disciples. He has certainly talked about the fact that he is the servant of all and that we are called to be servants, and now he carries out that ministry.

Peter is shocked. “Lord, you shouldn’t be washing our feet—that’s demeaning to you.” But when Jesus tells Peter that he, Jesus, must wash him in order for Peter to have a share with him, Peter wants the Lord to wash his hands and his head. What does it mean to have a share with Jesus? Scholars tell us that it means to be in full relationship with Jesus, to participate fully in our Lord’s ministry of servanthood, and to share fully in the love of Jesus, and, indeed, in the love which characterizes that first Christian community, the Trinity. The foot washing draws us into the love that is shared by the persons of the Trinity, and into the servant ministry which shares that love with the world.

He washes their feet and then he tells them and us that that is what we are called to do for each other and for others beyond our midst. And he sums it up, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is stronger than hate, stronger than fear. Love is the most transforming power we can ever hope to see. Loving and serving others is what brings in the kingdom, the reign, the shalom of Christ.

So as we share in this humble act of the washing of feet, may we feel ourselves drawn into the love and ministry of our Lord. May we share that love with each other, and may we share that love in our ministry of service to others.

Amen

Mark Sustic & Friends Annual Farewell Reunion – May 28, 2010

Mark Sustic and a host of musicians return to Grace for the 8th annual farewell reunion concert on Friday, May 28th, 2010. A potluck meal at 6 is followed by the concert starts at 7. This year we’ll have more musicians than we can fit in the house!  Suggested donation of $15 benefits the Tom Sustic Fund. Stay tuned for details.