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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:…

Last Sunday after Pentecost Proper 29A RCL November 20, 2011

Last Sunday after Pentecost Proper 29A RCL November 20, 2011

Christ the King Sunday

Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1: 15-23
Matthew 25: 31-46

Today is the last Sunday of the Pentecost season, also called Christ the King Sunday. It is also the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Next Sunday, we will begin the Advent season. What a wonderful time of the year, a time when we celebrate the paradoxical kingship of our Lord, a time when we focus on all the things we have to be thankful for, and a time when we are on the verge of preparing for our Lord to come again and complete the creation.

The prophet Ezekiel was one of the leaders of God’s people during their time in Exile in Babylon. Ezekiel was deported to Babylon in 597 B. C. E., the first time the massive and powerful Babylonian Empire captured Jerusalem. During the time in exile, Ezekiel and other leaders led the people in much deep soul-searching, and they realized that their leaders had not been good shepherds of the people. The rich and powerful pushed the little people around. There was no justice in the land.  

The Babylonians came back to Jerusalem in 586 B. C. E. This time they leveled the temple. This was a huge blow to the people. The temple was the center of their worship, and, in some sense, they felt that God dwelled in the temple. At this time, more of the people, especially the leaders, were sent to exile in Babylon.

God spoke to Ezekiel at this most dark and hopeless time. God gave Ezekiel the vision of a people made new, the vision of a return to Jerusalem and a time of rebuilding and restoration. God gave the vision of a community of people of compassion and caring.  And God said that God would be the shepherd of the people. This helped the people to realize that God was not only in Jerusalem. God was with them in their exile, guiding them to become the people God called them to be. As we know, the people did eventually return and rebuild.

In our post- Christendom era today, many scholars point out that we are in a kind of exile, as the Church seems to more and more people to be irrelevant. This passage from Ezekiel reassures us that the vision of God’s shalom is never irrelevant and gives us faith and hope to persevere in helping to bring in Christ’s kingdom.

Our reading from Ephesians is one of the most beautiful and powerful descriptions of community in the Bible. Paul says that he has heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus and of their love toward all the saints. He prays that God may give them a “spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe….” Our Lord is alive and is at the head of his Body, the Church, to fill us with all the gifts we need to follow him and to do the ministries he calls us to do.

Today’s gospel rounds out these lessons which focus on our king. Christ is enthroned as king and judge in this passage. But our king and our Lord calls us to a ministry of servanthood. We are called to feed the hungry, give a drink to those who are thirsty, give clothes to those who need them, welcome the stranger, extend hospitality, heal the sick, and visit those in prison.

God leads us out of exile into fullness of life. God leads us out of hopelessness into joy. Christ our King comes among us as one who serves and calls us to share that servant ministry. Christ, our Good Shepherd, leads us to good pasture, leads us beside still waters, and restores our souls.

We have so much to be thankful for, and that attitude of gratitude is the source of our stewardship. God has given us so much. It’s almost beyond our ability to comprehend.  God loves us unconditionally. Nothing can separate us from that love.  God gives us everything we need. God gives us all the gifts for ministry that we need in order to do the ministry he calls us to do.  God gives us the gifts of faith, hope, and love. Faith that gives us a sense of security in a world that fosters anxiety and fear. Hope that anchors us to a vision of the kingdom, the shalom, of Christ, a kingdom of peace, harmony, justice, and caring. And love, the love of Christ, who gives his life so that we may live in him and extend his love to others.

The power of his life and love is perhaps the greatest gift for which we are so thankful. He has extended that love to us and called us to share that love with others. And because of our Lord and all his gifts to us, we return to God a worthy portion of what God has given to us. In the next couple of weeks we will be making our pledges for 2012. We make these pledges from a deep sense of God’s abundance, which God has given to us.  Please make your pledge prayerfully in response to God’s love and generosity.

As I celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I thank God for this community, Grace Church, Sheldon, Vermont. Paul’s description of the church at Ephesus fits you very well. You gather to share the word of God, to be fed and energized by our risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist, to catch up with each other and support each other in your faith journey and your ministries out in the world, and then you go out and share God’s love with people in so many ways, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I believe Grace Church is a wonderful, vibrant community doing the ministry of servanthood which our Lord calls us to do. Thank you, and thanks be to God, for your good and faithful ministry.

May we grow ever closer to Christ our King, our Good Shepherd who  leads us into wholeness and newness of life. May we continue to be a community of faith in our Lord Jesus and love to all. May we continue our ministries to those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who need clothing, shelter, healing, welcome and caring.  Amen

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