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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 12 Proper 18A RCL September 4, 2011

Exodus 12: 1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13: 8-14
Matthew 18: 15-20

 Our opening lesson from the Book of Exodus is the account of the first Passover. The people are going to be delivered from slavery. Each household gathers for a meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs to remind them of their suffering. They are ready to travel—loins girded, sandals on their feet, and staff in their hand. They will begin their journey to the Promised Land.

One of my beloved mentors, David Brown, former Rector of Christ Church, Montpelier, has wisely said that, to be a good Christian one must be a good Jew first. By that he means that so many experiences of God’s people Israel are also our experience as humans and as Christians. It is important for us to remember this Passover history and to realize that our Jewish friends celebrate this feast every year around the time we are celebrating Easter. Their history is our history. We are all enslaved in various ways, As God’s people moved toward the Promised Land, so we follow our Lord as he leads us out of slavery to sin and into newness of life.

In our epistle, Paul is coming to the end of his Letter to the Romans. He is a Pharisee, an expert on the law, but now he says simply, “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” He tells us that all the commandments involving our behavior toward others are summed up in the one statement, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He says that slavery to sin is like being asleep or like being in the dark, But now the day is near and we can live in the light. Paul sounds an Advent theme of casting aside the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light. He even encourages us to “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” as though we were clothing ourselves with the goodness and strength of our Lord. Powerful and inspiring language from Paul.

Our gospel this morning deals with the question of how to deal with conflict in the Church. If someone sins against us, we are to go to then and try to resolve it one on one. If that does not work, we take two or three other members of the community and try to reach reconciliation. If that does not work, we bring it before the whole community. If the person will not amend his or her behavior, the leaders of the community may exclude the person.

What are these lessons telling us here in September of 2011? There are certainly conflicts in the Church and among Christian groups. Our Congress has recently experienced conflict to the point of deadlock.

Jesus called everyone to be a part of the community, rich and poor, men, women, and children, people from all walks of life, even those who were considered beyond the pale, such as tax collectors. In the Church, we have a principle of unity in diversity. If we look over the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and all the Christian churches, there is huge diversity. But we are all trying to follow Jesus. Even if we look at Grace Church, I think we represent the entire political spectrum from Progressives, to Democrats to Republicans to Independents and probably others. Yet we are all trying to follow Jesus.

If we look at our beloved country, the United States of America, there are people of all faiths and all nationalities. There is a huge diversity. That is a strength.

Here in Vermont, southern and central Vermont have been devastated by Irene. This past Thursday, I heard one of the town leaders in Ludlow talking. They have been hit so hard, but they had gotten the power on and they could get in and out of town. What was he saying? He said, now that we are sort of back on or feet, we are concentrating on helping our neighbors in Cavendish, who were hit even worse.

That is the Vermont way, and that is the way of every one of the major faith traditions. We are called to help each other, to look out for those who have less than we have,  to help others. We are called to share.

These lessons are about what is good for the whole community. To love each other, to care for each other—these values are emphasized in our faith and in every faith. This is the Vermont way, and it is the way of compassion.

Jesus summarized the law when he said that we are called to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. His whole life and ministry give us a clear picture of the vision of shalom. Shalom. Usually translated as “peace,” is much more than the absence of war. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori writes, in her book A Wing and a Prayer, “Shalom is a vision of the city of God on earth, a community where people are at peace with each other because each one has enough to eat, adequate shelter, medical care, and meaningful work. Shalom is a city where justice is the rule of the day, where prejudice has vanished, where the diverse gifts with which we have been so abundantly blessed are equally valued.”

This is our vision of community, here at grace, in Sheldon, in all the communities from which we come, in Vermont, in the United States, and all around this earth. God’s shalom has begun, but it is not yet fully realized. We are called to pitch in and help it to happen.

I feel truly blessed to live here in Vermont. I hope and pray that our Congress will learn to do things the Vermont way, working together for the good of all. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are still dealing with the devastation of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene, and most especially for Gethsemane, Proctorsville. Their parish hall is “a pile of wood scraps” and the foundation of their church building is compromised. Each parish has been asked to have a contact person so that we can get together to help other parishes recover from this storm.

May we love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and may we love our neighbors as ourselves.

Amen

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