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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 1 The Baptism of Christ Year C RCL January 13, 2013

Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 3: 13-17

In our opening reading from Isaiah, God is calling God’s people home from Exile in Babylon. God is telling them and us: “I have called you by name. You are mine. Be not afraid.” When we pass through high water, or fire; when we make our way through challenges, God will always be with us. What a wonderful promise and what a strengthening message from our loving God.

In our reading from the Book of Acts, one of the first deacons, Philip, has gone to Samaria, and many people, almost the entire population, has joined the new faith and been baptized in the name of Jesus. Peter and John go to Samaria, lay their hands on the people, and they receive the Holy Spirit. Not only does God walk with us every step of the way, God sends the Holy Spirit to empower us to live lives of integrity, compassion, and service. One good and simple definition of the Holy Spirit is that the Spirit is God at work in us and in the world. The Holy Spirit is God’s loving and healing energy enabling us to live as God calls us to live.

Today, we are gathered to baptize Krista Alexa Sturgeon. This is a celebration of great joy for all of us.  The vows which we will take this morning are stated in ancient language. We are renouncing  certain things and following a certain path which has been blazed for us by Jesus.  To put those vows in more contemporary terms, we are choosing to align ourselves with the forces of creativity, compassion, and wholeness rather than the forces of destruction, hatred, and brokenness. We are promising to gather together and learn together about God’s love and care for us, for the whole creation, and for all people. We are promising to continue on our journey with God and with each other, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ, to seek and serve Christ in every person, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

We pray that God will give Krista  “an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”

And we are asking God to give each of us these gifts as well. If we have inquiring and discerning hearts, this means that we are on a journey with God, and toward God. When we ask to have inquiring and discerning hearts, we are saying that that we don’t have all the answers, that we are seeking and asking God for guidance. We ask for the courage to persevere because we know the journey is not easy. There will be times when we may just want to quit trying to seek and do God’s will. We will need the help of God and others who love us and who are also on the journey with us. We ask for a spirit to know and love God. To remember that God loves us beyond our  ability to understand or imagine. When God says that Jesus is his beloved Son, God is also saying that to each of us. We’re God’s beloved sons and daughters. We ask for the grace to ask God and others for help. And, finally, we ask for the gift of joy and wonder at all of God’s works.

Joy and wonder at a dawn, or a sunset, at the ocean waves rolling in, at a flower, or a forest, the stars, the planets in their courses, the love of friends and family, the healing touch of a conversation, the gift of joy and wonder at all that God gives us.

The other day I happened to be listening to the radio and someone was interviewing the actor Jeff Bridges and a Zen master whose name I do not remember. They were talking about being open, going with the flow, and being in the moment.  The interviewer asked the Zen master what the thinking today is on enlightenment. Traditionally the path to enlightenment involves spending hours in meditation.

The Zen master said that there are probably still traditional Buddhists who feel that the only way to enlightenment is through meditation. But he said that there are many paths to enlightenment, and then he said something that struck me deeply. He said that the mark of an enlightened person is service to others. Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves.” I follow the Christian path, and I have dear Buddhist friends. Back in undergraduate school, I took a course in comparative religions. It was clear that all of the major religions  have the same ultimate point—treat others as you would like to be treated.

To see Christ in every person we meet. To see the revered Buddha in every person we meet. To see everyone as a child of God. To care for others, To have compassion. That is what these vows are about.

I say this because I know that we are gathered here as God’s beloved children who are Unitarian-Universalists, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Episcopalians (Fully catholic and fully reformed). Some of us are hybrids. For example, I have been deeply touched by my Quaker and Buddhist brothers and sisters.

We may carry different labels. We may be on slightly different paths, but they are all leading toward the same divine presence and love. May we all support Krista Alexa on her journey. And may we all support Nicholas as he leaves later this month for Basic Training.

May we all support this beloved young family in every way that we can.

Nicholas, please keep in touch so that we know exactly where to send all those care packages!

Amen.

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