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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 2C RCL 2/24/13

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:7-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

Our first reading today, from the Book of Genesis, shows us Abram, later to become Abraham, in an encounter with God. But here we see Abram in an unusual light. Abraham is the major Biblical example of a person of faith. Yet, as Herbert O’Driscoll puts it, “Here we see Abram, the seemingly towering founding figure of a future people, nervous and insecure! We hear the voice of God making effort to reassure Abram. “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great. The words could be said to a fearful child and not be out of place. Interestingly, they do not have the slightest effect in calming Abram’s fears. Yet this is the person who has come down in history as the wonderful example of a person who trusts God!”

God continues to try to reassure Abram, but Abram remains full of doubt. So God asks Abram to make an offering and God gives Abram a dramatic sign and makes a covenant with him.

This lesson can speak deeply to our hearts. Even Abram, the great icon of faith, had times of wavering, times when he needed reassurance. Doubt is not the opposite of faith. We all have times of doubt, times of questioning. God has given us minds with which to think. When we have times of questioning, this does not mean that we have lost our faith. It means that we are continuing our journey of faith.

In our gospel for today, an unusual thing happens. The Pharisees get a bad press in the gospels, but today, they warn Jesus that Herod wants to kill him. In contrast to Abram, Jesus is not wavering. He is courageous, resolute. He tells the Pharisees to go and tell that fox that Jesus is doing his ministry. He is making people whole.  In using the word “fox,” Jesus shows that he is not naïve, that he sees exactly the kind of person Herod is. He is as crafty as a fox. He is wily. He will do anything he needs to do in order to preserve his power.

Jesus says that he will finish his work on the third day. This is a reference to the resurrection. He says, in a sad and ironic tone, that it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem. The holy city is a dangerous place for truth-tellers. The powers that be will mow them down.

And then he says those words, which are so moving and poignant: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”  Jesus offers his tender, nurturing love to Jerusalem, but that love will not be accepted. Instead. He will be killed. But first, he will be hailed and welcomed with the words, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” God gave us the gift of free will, and sometimes we humans use that gift to reject the love of God.

Our epistle today is from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Philippi was a city in Macedonia on one of the main east-west roads in the Roman Empire. The Church in Philippi was the first Christian Community which Paul founded in Europe. This community was subject to all the influences of the Roman Empire, and scholars tell us that the Empire was beginning to sink into decadence.

We don’t know exactly what was going on in Philippi, but we all know what a preoccupation with what Paul would call “earthly things” can do to people. Paul calls the people to imitate him. This is not an arrogant gesture. In those days, you would choose a moral teacher and you would imitate the life and practice of that teacher. If course, we know that Paul is really calling us to imitate Christ. Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven. Our Savior Jesus Christ is at this moment transforming us as we grow closer and closer to him.

In my daily AA meditation book, entitled, “Twenty-four hours a Day, ” the message for April 20 reminds me of our epistle for today. It reads, “There are two paths, one up and one down. We have been given free will to choose either path. We are captains of our souls to this extent only.  We can choose either the good or the bad. Once we have chosen the wrong path, we go down and down, eventually to death. But if we choose the right path, we go up and up until we come to the resurrection day. On the wrong path, we have no power for good because we do not choose to ask for it. But on the right path we are on the side of good and we have all the power of God’s spirit behind us.”

The prayer that goes with the meditation says, “I pray that I may be in the stream of goodness. I pray that I may be on the right side,  on the side of all good in the universe.”

Like the Philippians, we have a choice. Every day we have many choices. Will we follow where our Lord is leading? Here we are, a week and a half into Lent. Maybe we are like Abram. Maybe we need to ask God for some help, some reassurance.

Some commentators think that the Pharisees told Jesus that Herod was out to get him in order to scare Jesus and make him turn away from his ministry. If so, it didn’t work.  Jesus walked courageously toward Jerusalem and his death. Think how much he loved the people of Jerusalem. Think how much he loved everyone. Think how much he loves you and me. He even loved Herod. But Herod’s mind and heart were so focussed on protecting his power that he couldn’t let God into his life. Herod is a perfect example of what Paul is calling us to avoid.

Jesus knows exactly whom he is dealing with. He knows what people will do when they are preserving their power at all costs. Yet he goes ahead. That is the model of courage we are called to follow. That is the model of love we are called to follow.  This could be quite daunting if we had to walk alone, on our frail human level.

But we are not walking alone. That is the whole point. And we have made our choice. And we are making our daily and hourly choices to follow Jesus, to be citizens of his realm.

“Our citizenship is in heaven.” What a thought. Not that we are other-worldly. No, we are quite down-to-earth, as Jesus was, and we have chosen to follow Him, because he is gathering the whole world together in loving and healing arms and making everyone and everything whole.

May we be in the stream of goodness.  May we be on the side of all good in the universe.            Amen.

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