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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 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 December 18, 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 December 25, 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:…

Trinity Sunday Year C RCL May 26, 2013

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

Today we celebrate the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or in gender neutral language, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Theologian John Macquarrie has a wonderful concept of the Trinity. He says that whenever we are going to create something, there is a vision of that creation, a plan for how to create it, and  then there is the realization of that plan.

Macquarrie says that God has a vision for the creation, Jesus is the plan for creation, he is the Word, the logos, the blueprint, pattern for human life. He is the One who calls the creation into being, and that the Holy Spirit brings about the realization of the plan. The Holy Spirit is God at work in us and in the world.

In the back of our Prayer Book, there is a Catechism. On page 846, there is the section on God the Father. It’s in a question and answer format. I will read the questions, Please respond with the answers.

Q. What do we learn about God as Creator from the revelation to Israel?
A. We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

Q. What does this mean?
A. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it.

Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe?
A. It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called   to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God’s purposes.

Q. What does this mean about human life?
A. It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.

Q. How was this revelation handed down to us?
A. This revelation was handed down to us through a community created  by a covenant with God.

On page 849, we have the section on God the Son,.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
A. We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.

Q.  What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God’s own act, his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.

Q. Why did he take our human nature?
A. The divine Son became human, so that in him, human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God’s kingdom.

Q. What is the great importance of Jesus’ suffering and death?
A. By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.

Q.  What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection?
A.  By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way to eternal life.

Q. What do we mean when we say that he descended to the dead?
A.  We mean that he went to the departed and offered them the benefits of redemption.

Q.  What do we mean when we say that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A.  We mean that Jesus took our human nature into heaven where he now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us.

Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death?
A.  We share in his victory when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.

On page 852, we have the section on the Holy Spirit.

Q. Who is the Holy Spirit?
A. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now.

Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.

Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.

Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.

–That is God’s shalom. When the whole creation is in harmony, God’s vision will be fully realized. That is what we are working for.

God in three persons—blessed Trinity. We experience God in these three ways, when we look at the beauty of creation, from a vast galaxy to the smallest little flower. When we write a poem or sing, or play an instrument, or do anything creative—build a cabinet, scrub a floor, take out a splinter, balance the books, listen to someone who is hurting, then we are experiencing God the Creator and we are being co-creators with God.

God the Son, our Redeemer, the One who frees us, who rescues us from sin. We are going around and around on our little hamster wheel, stuck in a never-ending circle of pride or wrath or envy or greed or lust or gluttony or sloth or addiction or fear or any of the things that can ensnare us and make us feel hopeless. And then he is there, reaching out with love and forgiveness, showing us the way out, freeing us to be the persons he calls us to be. That is Jesus, our Savior.

And the Holy Spirit. You can’t see the Spirit, but you can see the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness. and self-control. The Spirit is the One who is with us as Jesus reaches out in love and healing and gives us the energy to have hope once again, to get back on the journey. The Spirit is God at work within us and in the world. God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, are working mightily in Moore, Oklahoma right now, and all over our world, and right here, in us and among us.

God in three persons, blessed Trinity. May God’s Name be praised forever and ever.                Amen.

Summer Music at Grace 2013

Join us!

Friday, May 24: 11th annual farewell reunion reunionposter4  . Potluck/catered dinner at 6 p.m., concert at 7 p.m. featuring Michele and Fabe Choiniere, Hannah Beth Crary, Dominique Dodge and Rob Ryan, Bill Drislane and Liz Thompson, Franklin Heyburn, Dave Hoke and Latimer Hoke, Ken MacKenzie, Susan Palmer, Laurence Beaudry, Linda Morrison, Mike McCarthy, Jim McGinniss and Andy Sacher, Bob Naess and Cannon Labrie, Keeghan Nolan, Will Patton and Dono Schabner, Doug Perkins, Shady Rill (Tom MacKenzie and Patti Casey), Neil Rossi and more! Suggested donation: $15/$10/$5. Proceeds benefit Tom Sustic Fund.

Friday, June 14: Patrick Fitzsimmons, 7:30 p.m., Suggested donation: $15/10/5

Thursday, June 27:   National Convention to Hear Our Pipe Organ

        The 58th Annual Convention of the Organ Historical Society will convene the last week in June with headquarters at the Sheraton in Burlington.  Making daily forays into the countryside, pipe organ aficionados will be in Sheldon on Thursday, June 27.  Due to the limited seating in some of the churches on that day, organist Peter Crisafulli will play the historic 1833 Henry Erben pipe organ in four half hour recitals at 10:30 a.m., 11:50 a.m., 2:10 p.m. and 3:20 p.m.  Members of the church are invited to attend any of the programs.
    The Organ Historical Society is a national organization dedicated to raising awareness of and preserving our 19th century American pipe organs.  Do check the convention website www.organsociety.org/2013

Friday, July 19:  The Klimowski-Matthews Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. . Four musicians – two married couples play an eclectic sampling of chamber music for flute, clarinet, cello and guitar including original arrangements and music from jazz, Latin, pop, classical and the newly composed. A concert that is sure to please young and old alike.

Friday, August 23: Full Circle, 7:30 p.m. 5-woman ensemble featuring recorders, harp, drums and voices.

The Day of Pentecost

Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104: 24-34, 35b
Romans 8: 14-17
John 14: 8-17 (25-27)

Jesus has told the disciples that he will send an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to lead them jnto all truth. They are in Jerusalem. It is the Jewish feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover. People are gathered from all around the Mediterranean Sea, from all the known world.

The disciples are waiting, praying, open, expectant. The Spirit comes to them as a mighty wind, like the desert ruach, which molds and shapes the sand. Flames dance over the disciples’ heads That is why we wear red today. Suddenly these Galileans burst out with all the languages of the world, speaking heart to heart, dissolving all differences, sharing the Good News about Jesus in languages each member of the multitude gathered for the feast can understand.

Some people are deeply touched. Others are dubious. They think the disciples are drunk. Peter preaches an amazing sermon, telling them that God is pouring out God’s spirit on all flesh, as the prophet Joel foretold.

This year, we have been focusing on God’s family, the whole human family—how God breaks through humanly constructed barriers and makes us one. The Feast of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, and we are all called to extend God’s love to all the world.

In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” So many religious systems have presented God as someone very scary, someone who is keeping track of all our sins and errors, who is, as David Brown says, “out to gunch us.”

This is not the God we worship. We are beloved children of God. We can call God “Abba,” Daddy, or Mommy, Papa or Mom. Remember how our gospel for last week told us how God loves us as much as  God loves God’s son, Jesus? God is a God of love, not a God of fear or hatred. Let us hope and pray that religious leaders will stop preaching fear of a God who is out to punish us. God’s family includes everyone. That’s what the Feast of Pentecost is all about.

In our gospel, we are privileged to be with the disciples and Jesus in the Upper Room. Jesus has washed their feet. Judas has left to carry out the betrayal. Time is growing short.

Perhaps Philip senses this. Sometimes when we are looking into the face of God, we sense that we are confronting a great mystery, something that we can never hope to fully understand, because it is so big and so deep and so complex, and our minds are not large enough to grasp some things. Which one of us can grasp the depth and breadth of God’s love? This may be what Philip is feeling. He’s trying to get Jesus to boil everything down to something simple and clear. So he says,  “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus says, “If you have seen me, you have seen God. God is with you now. Look at my life, all the things I have done while we have been together.” And I imagine they reflect on this, his teaching, and healing, and preaching—the love, the patience, the gentleness, the courage, everything.  I think they and we can see that Jesus is God walking the face of the earth, living a human life. And now Jesus is saying that he wants us to do the same things that he has done. He is saying to us and them, “Live as I live, do as I do.” And he says that the disciples and we will do even greater things than he has done because he is going to send the Spirit to help us.  And then Jesus gives us his peace, not the fleeting peace that the world can sometimes give, but his shalom, his vision of the wholeness and the healing of creation, the shalom that he is calling us to build. Where everyone has enough food and water, has decent shelter, clothing, medical care and good work to do, the shalom in which we honor and heal the creation that God has entrusted to our care.

God’s Holy Spirit is God at work in us and in the world. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts and tools we need to share God’s love with the world, to speak God’s love heart to heart, and remember, the heart in Judeo-Christian thought is not only the emotions, but the will, the mind, the ethical center in each of us.

As wonderful as it was to have Jesus here on earth as a human being, he had to leave and send us the Spirit. When he was on earth, he traveled around a very small area. True, he touched hearts and lives everywhere he went. But the Feast Of Pentecost tells us that now he is everywhere. Wherever two or three gather in his name, he is there. Sometimes sharing God’s love doesn’t mean speaking in verbal languages, as happened on the first Pentecost. Sometimes sharing God’s love means listening. Sometimes it means tending to someone’s wounds, either physical or emotional or spiritual. Sometimes it’s planting a garden or building a school or helping a group of women turn their weaving into a business. Whatever it may be that we are called to do, today is the day we celebrate God’s giving us all the gifts we need to do it.

Pentecost didn’t happen just once, It’s happening all the time, as we realize that we have gifts we didn’t even know we had, and as we use those gifts.

On this wonderful feast day, may we thank God for all the love and all the gifts which God is constantly pouring out. Thank you, Lord, for making us your Body here on earth and for giving us the gifts to share your love, healing, and forgiveness.

Amen.

Seventh Sunday of Easter Year C RCL, May 12, 2013

Acts 16:16-34

Psalm 97

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

John 17:20-26

In our opening reading, Paul, Silas, and presumably Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, are in Philippi, a Roman city in Macedonia. Herbert O/Driscoll wisely advises us to remember how courageous the early proclaimers of the Good News were. O’Driscoll says that, “In all these cities, life is intense and volatile. Paul and Silas are strangers. To make things more dangerous, they are Jews, always in danger of becoming the focus of antagonism.”

They meet a young woman. She is held in slavery by owners who make a great deal of money by her fortune telling. She follows Paul and Silas, shouting and  thereby calling attention to them. Paul and Silas usually would go into a new area quietly, getting to know people and seeking out those who would be interested in following Jesus. The last thing they want is to have someone announcing their arrival and making a fuss. Paul becomes annoyed. There could be at least two reasons for this. First, she is drawing attention to them. Philippi is a Roman city, and the Roman authorities are quick to react to any disturbance or controversy. Paul does not want to tangle with the authorities. Secondly, this young   woman’s owners are exploiting her for their own financial gain.  O’Driscoll says that we would call these men pimps.  Mary Donovan Turner says that we would think of them as engaging in human trafficking or prostitution.

Paul frees this young woman from slavery. She is no longer useful to her owners. Their huge income is gone. They are furious. But they don’t address the real issue. We can just hear their insincere and unctuous tones as they bring their charges, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or observe.” Notice that they even sink to anti-Semitism, which was alive and thriving in the Roman Empire. The owners drag Paul and Silas into court, the crowd erupts in fury, they are stripped and severely beaten. Bruised and bloody, they are put in the most secure cell. What is their crime? Freeing a young woman from slavery.

But nothing can quench the Spirit. At midnight they are praying and singing and the other prisoners are listening to them. Then an earthquake comes. The doors of the prison are opened and the chains unfastened. But Paul and Silas know that, if they leave the prison, the jailer will be fired and possibly executed. Through their quiet natural authority, they persuade the other prisoners to stay out of compassion for the jailer.

When the jailer awakes, he thinks the worst has happened and prepares to take his life. Paul calls out to him, “Do not harm yourself, We are all here.”

The jailer is grateful beyond words, He feels that Paul and Silas have saved his life,  He asks Paul what he must do to be saved. Paul and Silas teach him the good news about Jesus. He accepts Jesus into his life. Then he takes Paul and Silas and washes their wounds, just as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. His faith immediately becomes loving action.  His whole household is baptized.

When that earthquake came and the doors flew open and the chains dropped limp around their ankles,  I am quite sure that Paul and Silas felt a strong urge to get out of there. But they didn’t do that. They thought of the jailer. They looked at him through the eyes of Christ and with the heart of Christ. They stayed right there, rooted and grounded in compassion.

Think what that meant to that jailer. Their loving action and courage opened the door for him and his entire household to follow Jesus. Not only did they save his life. They offered him a new life in Christ.

What does this mean for us today? Probably we won’t find ourselves in jail and experiencing an earthquake. Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “A friend asks us for help or advice. We give it the best we can. But how often do we take a chance on mentioning in some simple acceptable way, how much Christian faith or the Christian community means in our lives, offering these things as a possibility in our friend’s life?” This is a good question for us to think about.

This story is so timely when we think of what is happening in our world in just the last week or so. The death toll in the textile factory in Bangladesh climbed to over 1,000 people. Three women who had been kidnapped a decade ago were freed from a condition of slavery and abuse.  So often we hear news of human trafficking and slavery and abuse of many kinds, especially involving children. Paul’s action in freeing the young woman in our lesson today reflects God’s will that all persons be free and able to live healthy and productive lives.

In our gospel for today, Jesus says, “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me, I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,… so that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Think about what our Lord is saying. He is saying that God loves us just as much as God loves God’s son, Jesus.  God loves every human being as God’s own son or daughter.

Jesus prays that we all, the whole human family, might be one as he and the Father are one. Among many other things, this means that we treat each other with respect, that we don’t enslave each other or abuse each other.  Thanks be to God for the faith and courage which Paul showed in freeing this young woman. May we answer our Lord’s call to help free our brothers and sisters from all forms of bondage.  Amen.

Easter 6C RCL May 5, 2013

Acts 16:9-15

Psalm 67

Revelation 21:10. 22-22:5

John 14:23-29

In our first reading from the Book of Acts, Paul is in the port city of Troas, very near the ancient city of Troy, in what we now call Turkey. This is considered the western edge of Asia. As he look across the Aegean Sea, he can see Europe, Macedonia.

During the night he has a vision. A man says,  Come over to Macedonia and help us.” They set sail. They go to Samothrace, then to Neapolis, and then to Philippi, a leading city in Macedonia and a Roman colony. Paul and the other early followers of Jesus were constantly on the move, looking for people who wanted to hear the good news.

On the Sabbath, Paul and his team go to a place of prayer by a river, and there are some women there. One of them is named Lydia. She has traditionally been described as a wealthy businesswoman who sells purple cloth to privileged people, who are the only ones who are allowed to wear the royal color of purple.

In 2007, Professor Arthur Sutherland of Loyola University in Baltimore published a book called I Was a Stranger: A Christian View of Hospitality. Professor Sutherland writes, “The popular conception of Lydia as a wealthy woman who dealt in expensive fabrics is misleading. A more accurate reading of purpurie [the word translated as “dealer”] is a person who works in the manufacturing and sale of dyed products. Although dye houses were often owner operated and often employed hired help, and both genders worked as dyers and dealers, textile production was still considered women’s work and was looked down upon by the general public. Lydia’s work was most likely a subsistence occupation for herself and her house.” (Text read online.)

Scholars tell us that dye houses had a terrible odor because the process of dying involved the use of animal urine. Dye houses were located outside the city gates. Since the dying was done by hand, Lydia carried a visible stigma. That is, her hands were purple. She was considered marginal and of a lower class. Scholars tell us that in those days women would gather with other women who were of the same trade.

Yet Lydia is a seeker, a worshipper of God. She wants to grow closer to God. She and her household are all baptized. Then Lydia invites Paul and his helpers to her home. This is rather unusual because, in that time and culture, women did not invite people they did not know into their homes. Paul apparently hesitated to accept her invitation because the text says that she prevailed upon them. She had to convince them to accept her invitation. Scholars tell us that this could have been because she was a woman or because she was considered of a lower class.  Eventually Paul, Timothy, and Luke go to her home, which becomes a center of operations for them in Philippi. Through Paul’s later letters, we know that the congregation in Philippi becomes one of his most beloved communities of faith.

So here is Lydia, a person of deep faith, but a marked woman with purple hands.  Yet she does not hesitate to invite Paul to her home.

Mary Donovan Turner of the Pacific School of Religion writes,  “Lydia is right to think that her authority to greet, to receive, and to protect the stranger comes from her baptism and relation with Christ. On the basis of her faith and her baptism, she challenges any cultural notion that her house or she herself, is not fit for visitors. Lydia is a worker, marginalized, strong, voiced, determined—one who challenges discrepancies or hypocrisies when she sees them.”

Professor Turner points out that we often discuss issues of race and ethnicity in the Church, but she says that we do not often examine issues of class. She poses some questions. What classes are welcomed and feel comfortable in our church community? Do our worship and hospitality reflect class bias?

Jesus says in our gospel that “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” What a thought. God will come to us and make God’s home with us, And Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything.

In our readings today, barriers are coming down. A woman can invite Paul and his team to her home. A worker who doesn’t make a lot of money can extend hospitality to Paul and Timothy and Luke. Loving as our Lord calls us to love means that we share generously what we have. We invite people into our homes, and those people accept our invitation. It doesn’t matter whether our homes are simple or fancy, cabins or castles.

Extending hospitality comes from the heart, and receiving hospitality is a response from the heart. We are called to welcome everyone, regardless of race, gender, and all the other things we use to divide ourselves against the loving will of God, including class.

These ideas are of special interest to Grace Church because we have a strong ministry if accessibility in every sense of the word, and we have a strong ministry of hospitality. I know that we all hope and pray that we will welcome anyone who comes here, no matter what their life circumstances, as we would welcome Christ.

Amen