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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:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 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 October 16, 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:…

Pentecost 20 Proper 23, October 10, 2010

Pentecost 20 Proper 23 C RCL October 10, 2010

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66: 1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

In our first lesson, the Babylonian Empire has conquered Jerusalem. The leaders of Judah and many others are in exile in Babylon. Jeremiah writes to them from Jerusalem and encourages then to continue with their lives, to build houses, plant gardens, raise families, and to pray for their captors, for in the welfare of Babylon they will find their welfare.

Commentator Audrey West notes that this lesson speaks to our world in which, in our country, so many people have lost their homes through foreclosure, and so many people are refugees. She writes, “However, there is reason to hope even in the midst of shattered dreams. The people of God can bloom where they are planted, making the best of their circumstances. They can create a new “normal” as they learn to live into this reality. In a world turned upside down, the people of God are called and encouraged to remain faithful no matter where they are or what circumstances they face.” (New Proclamation, Year C 2010, p.236.)

In our epistle, Paul continues to encourage Timothy to persevere in faith. “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” We have died with Christ in our baptisms, in which we die to sin, to the brokenness which turns us away from God and others. Because we have died with him, we now join in his life, that new life rooted and grounded in faith and love and compassion.

In today’s Gospel, we have the story of the ten lepers who are healed by Jesus. Our Lord is still on his way to Jerusalem, and he is apparently on the border between Galilee and Samaria. We need to remember that the Jews thought the Samaritans were beyond the pale, that their theology was not correct and that they were therefore outcasts.

Jesus goes into the village and the ten lepers approach him. Scholars tell us that lepers usually lived in groups. They stayed away from people because they were considered unclean. But these ten people call to Jesus, “Jesus, master, have mercy on us!” and Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. This is because in that time, the priests were responsible for determining whether the lepers had been healed, in other words, whether they were now clean. As they go on their way to the priests, they are healed.

Nine of the lepers keep going to the priests to be pronounced clean. But one notices he is now healed and he praises God and comes back and thanks Jesus. And Jesus tells him to get up and go on his way, because his faith has made him well. This man was a Samaritan, so, as a leper, he had two strikes against him. He was unclean on two counts, Yet he is the only one who comes back and gives thanks. In Luke, it is the outcasts who often give us the most powerful examples of true faith.

This Gospel makes me think of what I call the attitude of gratitude. This is a concept which we find in twelve step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I probably wouldn’t be here if AA didn’t exist. I know what it is to feel like a leper and an outcast. That is one reason I want to help to start an AA group here in Sheldon just as I did when I lived in Milton. Because AA is one of God’s paths to new life.

I think most of us know that feeling of being an outcast or unworthy to one degree or another, Most of us have things that we wouldn’t want printed on the front page of the New York Times. So we can understand what a relief and a joy it is to have something like that lifted from us as if by a miracle, I consider my recovery a miracle, and it has become a source of God’s gift to me of being able to help others.

Some of the AA literature describes members of AA as a group of people who have survived a shipwreck and are now pulling together to row a lifeboat. That’s the level of gratitude. We were dead, and now we live. That’s my level of gratitude every day of the life God gives me.

My experience of recovery makes it easy for me to find gratitude. I am asking you to find within you some experience that gives you that sense of having died with Christ and now living with Christ. Some experience in your life that helps you get in touch with a way in which you were dead but are now alive in Christ. Something you went through that makes you so grateful to be here, so grateful to have the gift of faith, so grateful to have a faith community that is so vibrant. Small, but vibrant.

We are going to be starting to think about stewardship in a concentrated way. One, we will be thinking about our pledges for this coming year. And, two, we will be thinking of pledges of time, talent, and treasure for our building project. Please start thinking about these things. God gives us everything we have. What portion of all that will you return to God for next year’s pledge and for our building project? Something we all need to pray about.

It is so easy, especially in bad economic times, to think of how little we have. But that’s not the attitude of gratitude. We have so much. I once again encourage you to make that gratitude list or to review the one you already have made. What do I have to be grateful for? I can see, I can hear, I can think, I can talk, I can pray, I can walk, even run, sing, love, help people. I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, especially now that the cold weather is coming, that’s a good thing.

God calls us to have a theology of abundance. We cannot look at the cup half empty. That accomplishes nothing. Furthermore, it denies all the gifts God has given us. We must always look at the cup not only half full, but full and running over. We have so much. Compared to most of the rest of the world, we are hugely wealthy. And it is absolutely true: the more we give, the more we have. That is the theology of abundance.

We are at a crucial place in our journey as a community of faith. We have so much to offer. This congregation has so many gifts it is truly amazing—Grace. I can envision a counseling/healing/meditation center here as well as a community center and meeting place. The sky is the limit. Ten were healed. One came back to offer thanks. Somebody once said that we Christians are so lucky because we know whom to thank. Thanks be to God for all these gifts.

The attitude of gratitude. Thanks be to God for all these many and powerful and beautiful gifts!

Amen.

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