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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 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:…
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Pentecost 14 Proper 17C RCL August 29, 2010

Pentecost 14 Proper 17C RCL August 29, 2010

 Jeremiah 2:4-13

Psalm 81:1, 10-16

Hebrews 13:1-8, 13-16

Luke 14: 1, 7-14

 

As one commentator notes, out first lesson is a cross between a lawsuit and a lovers’ quarrel.  The year is 626 B. C. The prophet Jeremiah, around 18 years of age, is called by God to tell the people that, after God has faithfully protected them so that they could journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land, the people have chosen the worthless Canaanite god, Baal. Baal was a fertility god. He was said to be the god of rain, which obviously is needed for the growth of crops. The people of God have abandoned the living water of true faith in order to build cisterns to hold the rainwater of Baal.  Rulers and religious leaders had drifted far from God’s values.

Just before our gospel passage for today, Jesus does another healing on the Sabbath. This time he cures a man of dropsy. The Sabbath is always a celebration of God’s leading us out of slavery to freedom. Healings help people to be free.

Then Jesus goes to the home of a Pharisee for a meal. He notices that the guests are choosing the places of honor.  In those days, the men would recline on cushions. The head table was in the center. There the host and honored guests would recline. If someone distinguished arrived late, which, according to scholars happened quite frequently, he would be placed at the center with the host, and another guest would have to move from the center table of honor to the outskirts of the feast.

Jesus offers a bit of practical etiquette by telling us to go to the lowest seat. In that way, the host can always call us to move to the center table if there is room. But Jesus is telling us about a wedding banquet, and this gives us a signal that he is talking about the heavenly banquet. He is talking about his kingdom, his reign, his shalom.  In the shalom of God, the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind will be at the head table, at the place of honor.

Today we read our last selection from the Letter to the Hebrews. The author is summing up.  Written at the end of the first century after Christ, the letter is to a congregation of Jews who have adopted the new faith in Jesus of Nazareth. They have suffered persecution. They have been imprisoned.  It has been anything but easy.

The guidance offered in this passage involves the Christian community.

They are to love each other, no matter what. They are to show hospitality to strangers. Scholars tell us that this refers to Christians who were traveling from place to place. In those days, travel was extremely dangerous.  The Christian faith was spread by people who had to travel on business as well as by missionaries like Paul and Timothy and Barnabas. Visit those in prison. Many members of the congregation had been there, or were in prison when the letter was written.  Be faithful in marriage and in committed relationships. Be careful about the love of money. Be content with what you have. Do good, share what you have. 

The people of Jeremiah’s time, at least the leaders, were drifting away from God. The members of the congregation addressed in the Letter to the Hebrews were trying to live their faith. And that’s what we are trying to do as well.

The writer of this inspiring letter says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Through him, then let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.”

Retired Episcopal priest Gray Temple writes of this passage, “The work of actually praising God and meaning it is transformative: it changes us. Here is how it works. You come to resemble what you admire. People who admire money get green and crinkly. People who admire computers grow user-unfriendly. People who admire youth get juvenile. People who actively and deliberately admire Jesus Christ come to resemble him as he actually was and remains today, unchanged from age to age: generous, merry, tender, fierce, courageous, somewhat mischievous, fully open to others….” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Vol. 4, p. 16.)

There is a beautiful old hymn which goes like this:  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus/ Look full in his wonderful face/And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/In the light of his glory and grace.”

If we “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” if we focus on him and worship him and ask him for guidance in all things and seek to do his will, and do his will to the best of our abilities, with his grace, we become more and more like him, as individuals and as a community. It’s amazing but true. He lives in and through us. We do as he would do. That’s the journey. That’s the goal. He is alive in us.

Dear Lord, Help us to grow into your likeness more and more each day.

                                                          Amen

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