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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:…

Epiphany 5B RCL February 5, 2012

 Isaiah 40: 21=31
Psalm 147: 1-12, 21c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1: 29039

Our first reading, from the prophet known as the Second Isaiah, takes us back to the time of the Exile in Babylon. The people are feeling that God has forgotten them. Here they are, far from home, trying to hold on to their faith, but beginning to lose heart. They think that God does not understand their situation. Sometimes we feel that way. We ask, where is God in all of this? Does God care that we are going through this awful situation?

Through the prophet Isaiah, God answers the people. God is the One who created all things. As the text says, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” And God assures us that God does not grow weary, that God “gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless …Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.”

There is a deep truth in these passages from Isaiah:  that God is with us, that God understands us, that God will never grow weary in helping us, that, as Paul says, “God’s power is made perfect in weakness.” When we feel powerless and admit our powerlessness, God enables us to fly like eagles.

This theme of weakness carries into our epistle today. The congregation in Corinth has some members who feel they have superior knowledge. They are coming from a position of power, and they are attacking Paul. Paul is not saying that he has superior power or knowledge. He is saying that he tries to understand people, to walk in their shoes and have empathy for them so that he can share the good news with them in ways that they can understand. He writes, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some….” He is coming from a place of humility and meets people where they are. He is following the example of our Lord, who said, “I am among you as one who serves.”

In our gospel, Jesus and his disciples leave the synagogue in Capernaum and go to the home of Simon Peter and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. They tell Jesus that she is ill. Jesus goes and takes her by the hand, and lifts her up. Scholars tell us that the Greek word used by Mark for “lifted up” is the same word Mark uses for Jesus’ resurrection. So this word means more than just lifted to a standing position. It means a rising to new life. The fever leaves her and she begins to serve them. The word for “to serve” is diakonia, the root word for deacon. Jesus heals her and calls her into new life and restores her to her ministry. Like the ministries of most of us, it is an ordinary everyday ministry of service—diakonia.

Word spreads fast. A healing has happened. By evening the whole city is at the door bringing people who need healing. Jesus ministers to them, but then, in the early morning, he goes off to pray. We all need to do that. We have times when we go to be with God and be recharged and renewed.

The disciples go to find Jesus and he tells them to go to the neighboring towns to share the good news and to make people whole.

What are these readings saying to us? First, at times when we feel that God is far away, times when we think there is no hope, times when we feel weak and unable to put one foot in front of another, God speaks to us and says, “I am the Creator of the vast galaxies, and I am also your loving God who will never leave you. I am always with you, to help you and guide you.”

Secondly, Jesus came as one of us, and Paul models that awareness in his ministry. He becomes the people he is called to serve, as Jesus became one of us. When we do our ministry we are called to become one with the people we are called to serve, to come from a place of empathy and servanthood, rather that a place of superiority and power. As Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

Third, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and she goes right back to serving them. He lifts her up, he makes her whole. He welcomes her to new life, and then she serves a meal. Not very exciting, we could say.

Most of our ministries are ordinary, everyday ministries of service. Nothing very dramatic. But because our Lord has called us and walks with us every step of the way, we do these ordinary things in a different way. Because he is with us, we listen to a troubled person in a different way, with his concern, with his love. Because he is with us, we may be writing a grant or working on a budget, or cleaning someone’s teeth, or doing laundry for a traumatized kid, or baking, or doing carpentry, or making a building more accessible, but we are doing it in a different way. We are carrying the presence and grace of our Lord to those we meet.

The fourth century theologian and bishop Cyril of Jerusalem wrote, “Everywhere the Savior becomes ‘all things to all men.’ To the hungry, bread; to the thirsty, water; to the dead, resurrection; to the sick, a physician; to sinners, redemption.” (New Proclamation Year B 2012, p. 91.)

Loving and gracious God, thank you for coming among us and leading us into newness of life. Thank you for calling us to minister to others in your Name. Give us grace, we pray, that we may be aware of your presence and help in the smallest and most ordinary of tasks and that we may share your love and healing as we serve our brothers and sisters, who, like us, are your beloved children. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

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