• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • 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:…

Easter 5, May 22, 2011

Easter 5A RCL May 22, 2011

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31: 1-5; 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14; 1-14

In our reading from the Book of Acts, Stephen, one of the first seven deacons of the Church, has preached a sermon tracing the history of God’s people from Abraham to Solomon. In his sermon, Stephen has emphasized God’s care and faithfulness, but he has also pointed out the long history of human failure to follow God’s guidance. This enrages the religious authorities. Stephen is subjected to a hearing before the council of elders and then he is stoned to death, becoming the first Christian martyr. Stephen’s prayer for his persecutors echoes the prayer of Jesus on the cross.

Our epistle is addressed to churches in Asia Minor. These communities were composed of gentiles who were resident aliens and household slaves. In other words, they were at the bottom of the social scale and suffered various forms of persecution. The writer encourages them and us by saying that as a community of faith we are one in Jesus and we share in his ministry.

Our gospel for today is part of Jesus’ final discourse and prayer. He and the disciples have shared the last supper; he has told them he is going to die, and, of course, they are feeling awful because he will no longer be with them.

He tells them not to be troubled. He says that he will make a place for them. “In my father’s house there are many dwelling places.” Heaven is an inclusive place. There is room for everyone.

He says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The revered biblical scholar William Barclay has a great analogy about this. He asks us to imagine ourselves in a strange town. We ask directions. The person we have asked says go here, turn right there, turn left there, and on and on with very specific directions. We are lost before we get halfway there. Barclay says, “But suppose the person we ask says, ‘Come on, I’ll take you there.’” Barclay says that that’s what Jesus does for us. Barclay writes, “He not only gives us advice and directions. He takes us by the hand and leads us. He strengthens and guides us personally every day. He does not tell us about the Way. He is the Way.”

Jesus is the truth. Jesus’ whole life conveys the truth he came to teach.
A careful reading of the gospels teaches us what the life in Christ is about. When Jesus says that he is the truth, he does not mean a narrow truth; he means the deep, almost unfathomable truth of the love and transforming power of God. In his book Saving Jesus from the Church,
Robin Myers, a pastor in the United Church of Christ and a professor of Philosophy at Oklahoma City University, writes: “The truth of which Jesus speaks is wisdom incarnate, not intellectual assent to cogent arguments made on behalf of God. Indeed, a quick glance around this broken world makes it painfully obvious that we don’t need more arguments on behalf of God, we need more people who live as if they are in covenant with Unconditional Love, which is our best definition of God.” (p. 21.)

Does this passage mean that Jesus is the only way to God? Scholars tell us that John’s community was a Jewish Christian community that had been expelled from the synagogue because they were following Jesus. There was a theological battle going on. The way I would interpret these words for today is to say that we have experienced a deep and transforming relationship with Jesus. He is changing our lives. Come and join us in this new life. When Jesus says that he is the life, he means life in and with that loving God. The call to follow Jesus is inclusive, not exclusive. He welcomes everyone.

To see Jesus is to see what God is like. He did not come as a king, although he could have. No. he came as a vulnerable baby. He underwent the entire process of gestation and birth. We could say he took no shortcuts. He was the son of a carpenter and learned the carpenter’s trade. He knows what it is like to put in a hard day’s work, to have customers who are hard to please. He had struggles—the temptation in the wilderness, the agony in the garden, the death of Lazarus. He cared intensely about people. He touched lepers; he reached out to those who were held in low esteem. This spoke volumes to those resident aliens and slaves addressed in First Peter. With Jesus, everyone was respected. He called everyone to become his or her best self. With unswerving courage he went to a deeper level of truth, the level of the spirit rather than the letter. He broke the rules. He got into trouble with those who had worldly power and he hung on a cross, a punishment reserved for the lowest of the low, common criminals.

In Jesus we see God living a human life. There is something incredibly compelling about the life and teaching and person of Jesus. How blessed we are to have this living example of love and courage and integrity and all the other qualities we would hope to have—as the blueprint for our own lives. Jesus is the Word, the logos, the plan, the model for our lives. he has gone before us in the way that the shepherd goes before the flock, opening the path, making the way for us. He knows what life is. He knows what death is. In a way that we will never be able to understand, he has risen and is with us. We cannot understand it on a logical level but we can experience him and his love and his power—here, now, in this banquet at which he is the host, in close moments of sharing with others, in the presence of God as revealed in nature, and in many other ways, he is with us, still leading and guiding us.

Look around you. Each face is the face of your risen Lord. Every person is an alter Christus—an other Christ. When you look into the mirror, there you will see the face of God. And as you look around at these very ordinary and very extraordinary people, you will see in others and in yourself, theotokos, God bearers, members of Jesus’ living body.

Amen.

%d bloggers like this: