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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:…

Lent 3B RCL March 11, 2012

Exodus 20: 1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1: 18-25
John 2: 13-22

The people Israel have arrived at Mt. Sinai. God has freed them from slavery and they are making their way through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Scholars tell us that today’s summary of the Ten Commandments was actually a liturgy, a worship service which was performed down through the ages to celebrate God’s leading the people out of slavery and the covenant which provided the foundation of their life with God and with each other.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The first commandment makes it clear that God has acted first to bring us out of bondage. Now we are called to respond.

We are not to make idols. Obviously, we shouldn’t manufacture golden calves for ourselves to worship. But the commandment not to make idols covers all those things we may put in the place of God. Apparently, Volvo at one time identified itself as “a car that can save your soul.” Gert Behanna said that we put “In God we trust on the thing we really do trust.” A great mystic said that our souls are restless until they find their rest in God. It is so easy to put things in the place of God, but there is only one God.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the Name of the Lord your God.”

 “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.” Sabbath time is so important. We need to stop and rest and have fun with friends and family and enjoy recreation. We are also called to worship God, to share and reflect on the Word of God, pray together, receive the sacraments, and support each other on our journeys.

“Honor your father and your mother.” Family is so important, and this commandment and the ones following it all have to do with how we conduct ourselves in the context of ur own families and the family of faith.

 No murder, even with the tongue or the pen or the computer keyboard. Be faithful to your spouse. Honor the relationships of others.  Don’t steal. Be honest. Do not covet anything that anyone else has. These guidelines are wise and tried and true. They are a wonderful framework for our lives and for our life together.

As we turn to our epistle today, we remember that, as Paul moved around the Mediterranean Sea building congregations, he was dealing with two groups who were joining the new community of faith.  Neither of these groups had any use for a leader who had been crucified. The Jews saw crucifixion as a criminal’s death for the lowest of the low. If someone had been crucified, that immediately made him suspect. The Greeks respected philosophy and philosophers, not crucified leaders. We need to remember that Paul was well-versed in Greek philosophy and in Hebrew scholarship as well.  Paul was no dummy. We would make a big mistake if we were to think that Paul is telling us to forget reason and scholarship as we try to understand the scriptures and our faith. Some people seem to think that Paul is anti-intellectual, and that is not the case.

I believe that Paul is making a very important distinction between human wisdom and divine wisdom. Yes, we are called to study and to learn and to be responsible in how we think about theology. But human wisdom only goes so far. Some people in the congregation in Corinth felt that they possessed superior wisdom. That’s when Paul said that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Paul is saying that our God has come to us as one who is crucified, as one who suffers the death reserved for the lowest of the low, as one who lets go of his life and then rises to new life. Power is not about holding on to control and bossing people around and getting them to do what we want them to do. Power is about letting go and letting God bring the new life. That’s what Jesus does on the cross. And we are called to let go and to fall into the endless healing power of God’s love so that God can make us new. The whole Christian faith is a huge paradox. As our own Episcopal Church ads say, God does not ask us to check our brains at the door. God gave us brains and we are called to use them to the utmost. Then we take the next step and experience God, and that goes beyond the human mind. That’s where the Holy Spirit touches our hearts and lives.

In today’s gospel, we find Jesus in the great Temple in Jerusalem. Once you had climbed the steps to the outer courtyard, you had to pay the temple tax. To do this, you had to exchange your Roman coinage for the temple coins .The money changers charged a fee for their services, and this weighed most heavily on the poor. Jesus is not attacking the idea of worship. He is not attacking the spiritual tradition in which he has grown up. But he is very angry that people are making a sacred space into a marketplace, a place to make money, especially from those who could least afford a surcharge that shouldn’t be there in the first place. The temple worship had gotten to a point where it was placing barriers between the people and God. Jesus wanted people to be able to meet God face to face.

Obviously, we don’t make animal sacrifices and we don’t have money changers in church these days. But our readings pose some questions. Are we worshipping God in spirit and in truth? Are we putting barriers in the way of seekers who might come to our door? Are we, like the Corinthians, getting sidetracked with irrelevant points, such as who has the greatest knowledge among us?

I have been thinking about our worship here at Grace. We come together. In the winter, it can be cold. I never hear a complaint. I hear good-natured joking, but that’s a different thing, a good thing. Our worship is simple.  Every one pitches in. Everyone sings, people read, we pray. I have rarely seen such a depth of commitment as I see here. These days we are talking about the emergent church, the church which emerges from the ashes of the Christendom era. Communities which can love God and each other, use the gifts they have, travel light, rejoice in being together, share the food and drink which our Lord gives us, and go out into the world to spread his love and healing, are the kinds of communities we will need.  Grace Church is a living, positive response to our readings for today.  Well done, good and faithful servants!

 

                                                          Amen.                                                                                              

 

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