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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:…

Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 16, 2010

Easter 7C RCL May 16, 2010

 

Acts 16:16-34

Psalm 97

Revelation 22:12-14; 16-17; 20-21

John 17:20-26

 

This Sunday we look in on Paul and Silas as they continue their ministry in Philippi. There are two dramatic encounters. The first is with a slave girl who has a gift of divination. Her gift is very accurate. She names Paul and Silas as representatives of the most high God.

 

The problem is that her owners are using her for their own selfish financial gain. Paul antagonizes her owners by removing this gift so that they can no longer grow rich by keeping her as a slave.

 

This causes a general uproar. The crowd beats Paul and Silas, and they land in jail, securely bound, even placed in the stocks. Paul and Silas sing hymns and pray to God, and the prisoners listen to them. Around midnight there is an earthquake, the doors are opened and the chains are unfastened. But Paul does not want the jailer to be blamed for an escape, so he and the other prisoners stay.

 

When the jailer arrives, he thinks the prisoners have escaped, and, in shame, he is about to kill himself. Paul stops him. Although the earthquake is a natural event, all present clearly attribute it to God. Paul’s concern for the jailer and and the fact that the prisoners  have not fled touches the jailer’s heart deeply. He washes the prisoners’ wounds. He is so compelled by the prisoners’ faith in God that he and his family are baptized immediately. In a wonderful and moving paradox, the prisoners, by not escaping, free the jailer and welcome him into newness of life. This is yet another account from the Book of Acts of the powerful work of the Spirit in the early Church. It is so important for us to remember that the Holy Spirit is just as active today in our own lives and in our world.

 

The gospel for today is once again from Jesus’ high priestly prayer just before he goes to his death.

 

Barbara Rossing, of the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, writes of this passage, “We should read this text, first of all, as a prayer, a window into the very heart of God. How powerful it is to know that Jesus has prayed to God on our behalf. There is no one for whom Jesus did not pray on his last night.  Like the prayer of the parent overheard by the child for whom one intercedes, what this prayer reveals is Jesus’ deep love for his disciples and his deep trust in God as he prepares for his death. Love is at the heart of this prayer.” Rossing, New Proclamation, Year C, 2001, pp. 65-66.)

 

Jesus is praying that we may be one as he and the Father are one. This is a prayer for every Christian community and for all Christians around the world.  Beyond that, I believe this is a prayer for the whole human family. We all know that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are deeply committed to ecumenical and interfaith work. Possibly because we are the via media, the middle way, we are open to all the expressions of the Christian faith as well as to other faith expressions.

 

This unity does not mean uniformity. This unity is not of Christians walking in lockstep. It is unity amidst great diversity and richness founded on the kind of love which is rooted in respect for each other as children of God.

 

It is the kind of unity we see in the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Each person of the Trinity is  distinct and unique, yet they are one in the love which they share and express to the world. It is that quality of love which Jesus calls us to share in our own faith community and beyond. And he promises that he will abide in us, and we in him. Jesus is in us and we are in him.

 

We see that quality of love and trust in Paul and Silas and their company as they sing and pray, as they rest in faith and complete trust in God, even to the point of staying there in prison so that they can reach out to their own jailer and set him free.

 

May we always remember that Jesus abides in us.  Jesus is in us. May we have the kind of faith that can set us and others free. May we all be one as Jesus and the Father are one. And may we remember that the Holy Spirit can work just as powerfully now as two thousand years ago.

                                                           Amen.