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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion February 5, 2023 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 February 12, 2023 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 February 19, 2023 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:…

Pentecost 19 Proper 21C RCL September 29, 2013

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

Psalm 91:1-6.14-16

1 Timothy 6:6-19

Luke 16:19-31

In today’s reading from the Book of Jeremiah, Nebuchadrezzar II, King of Babylon, is besieging the city of Jerusalem. In 597 B.C., Nebuchadrezzar had placed King Zedekiah on the throne of Judah, but now, in 587 B. C., the Babylonians are on the attack. They will now reduce the temple to rubble and will deport the leaders of  Judah to Babylon, where they will spend almost fifty years in exile.

The people had comforted themselves with the thought that, no matter what they did, God would protect them from foreign invasions, Jeremiah had told them that this was not so. King Zedekiah branded Jeremiah as a traitor and put him in prison.

In the midst of this disaster, God guides Jeremiah to buy a piece of land, to invest in the future hope for God’s people. Jeremiah is very careful to follow every provision of the law and to preserve the documents regarding this transaction. In the darkest hour, there is always hope. In 539 B. C. the people returned home.  King Cyrus of Persia, now Iran, conquered the Babylonians. He had a more benevolent policy toward those who had been deported and allowed them to return home.

Last Sunday, Jesus told us that we cannot serve God and money. This Sunday, we have the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This is not the brother of Mary and Martha, but another Lazarus.

The rich man is extremely wealthy. At his gate, very near the rich man’s home so that he can see him every day, lies Lazarus, covered with sores, who longs to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table. Both men die. The rich man goes to Hades. He looks up from his torments and sees Lazarus at the side of Abraham. Now we find out that the rich man actually knows Lazarus’ name, because he asks Abraham to tell Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and bring it to him, but Abraham says that is not possible.

The rich man saw Lazarus at his gate every day. He even knew his name. But he never dipped his finger in water to help him. He never fed Lazarus or tended to his sores.

Herbert O’Driscoll summarizes the point of this parable in these words, “Our Lord’s parable is about one who lives an utterly self-centered existence for which a terrible payment must be made.”  (The Word Among Us, Year C, Vol, 3, p. 117.)

As Christians, we are called to care about our neighbors, and, as Jesus points out in another parable, everyone is our neighbor.

Walter C, Bouzzard, Professor of Religion at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, points out that “the verb translated, ‘to satisfy his hunger’ appears elsewhere in Luke at 6:21, the beatitude about how the hungry will be filled.” Bouzzard continues, “That beatitude’s promise is previewed in Luke 9:17 when the hungry crowd is satisfied with the loaves and fishes Jesus provides.” Bouzzard writes, “ The satisfaction of hunger is clearly a sign of God’s reign. Moreover, in this parable, that aspect of God’s reign and will is just as plainly something the rich man might have advanced from the things that, in his opulence, he simply wasted. …There are consequences for the willful neglect of our neighbor.” (Bouzzard,  New Proclamation Year C 2013 Easter through Christ the King, pp. 185-86.)

Jesus powerfully calls us to love God and love others. We cannot be self-centered or self-involved if we are to live a Christian life. The whole life and ministry of our Lord show us an example of one who is constantly reaching out to others. In the Judah of Jeremiah’s time, one of the great tragedies was that the rich were getting richer and the poor were suffering. That is happening in our own day as well. Those at the very top are doing great, and the rest of us are losing ground. As Christians, we are committed to helping those who are in need and finding ways to correct this inequality.

I recently heard an interview with Will Rapp, the founder of Gardeners Supply, who has gone on to work on sustainability issues around the world. In the interview, he posed a question which provides a window into the kingdom, the shalom of God” “What would happen if we put the well being of people ahead of the production of stuff?”

This is a great question. As a psychologist and as a Christian, I believe that something happens to us when we become self-centered to the point of ignoring the needs of others as this rich man did. We become hard, uncaring. We think that we have achieved our wealth through our own efforts and that we deserve to keep it all. We give no credit or thanks to God for our good fortune. We really don’t care. Something dies within us. We become a closed, self-absorbed system.

Once again, I feel that I am preaching to the choir. I don’t know anyone at Grace who would do as this rich man did. One of the reasons that I love being among you is that you live your faith. You do care about people and their concerns and problems. You do reach out and help.

However, as we look at the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of us in this country, I hope we will all think about this parable and about Jesus’ teachings on wealth. I hope we will continue to keep in mind that we are called to take care of those who are less fortunate. As our epistle says, we are called to set our hopes “on God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment…[and] to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for [ourselves] the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that [we] may take hold of the life that really is life.”

May we love our Lord Jesus, and may we love and care for others in his Name.  Amen.

Pentecost 18 Proper 20C RCL September 22, 2013

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

Psalm 79:1-9

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Luke 16:1-13

James Philip Hyatt of Vanderbilt Divinity School says that the prophet Jeremiah “was the outstanding personality of his age,” though he was not recognized as such during his life. He witnessed the decline of the Assyrian Empire and the rise of the Babylonian Empire, which, at the point of our reading, is poised to invade Jerusalem.

Jeremiah also was an eyewitness to a heartbreaking period in the history of God’s people. In 621 B. C., King Josiah and the people were rebuilding the temple, which had been damaged during battles with the Assyrians. The Assyrian Empire had been weakened and had loosened its hold on Judah. The people were rebuilding the temple and finding a sense of some freedom from foreign domination. During the rebuilding, a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy was found in the temple ruins. King Josiah was inspired to begin a time of great reform, a time of renewal of faith and new dedication to following the law and living intentionally as God’s people.

In 609 B. C. King Josiah was killed in battle with the Egyptians. After three months, his son, Jehoiakim, was placed on the throne by the Egyptians, who were making Judah a vassal state. Prof, Hyatt writes, “Jehoiakim used oppressive measures in dealing with his own people.” We can’t help but think of the current situation in Syria when we hear this. Hyatt goes on to say that Jehoiakim “was pompous and proud, and he probably reversed many of the religious reforms which had been instituted by his father.” (Hyatt, Jeremiah, Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 5, p. 778.) Jehoiakim was subservient to the Egyptians, who had put him on the throne, and later he began to pay tribute to the Babylonians, which led to the two invasions. During his reign, the people worshipped Baal and other gods, the temple worship became an empty sham of a ritual, moral values declined, and the society began to fall apart with those at the margins suffering the most.

The leaders and people had abandoned God and were worshipping idols, but they felt that God had abandoned them. The temple clergy were corrupt, They did not preach the truth. They did not call the people to be close to God. So there was no balm in Gilead. There was no healing. God was right there, but the people could not see that God was present.  This is such a tragic situation. It is possible for us as individuals and as societies to drift far away from God and have no idea that that is what we are doing.   We think that God has deserted us, But that is not the case.  Both God and the prophet Jeremiah are weeping for the suffering and blindness of the people. There is a drought and the Babylonians are about to attack.

Our gospel for today is complex. What is it telling us? First, as Fred Craddock of Candler School of Theology, Emory University writes, “How one handles property has eternal consequences.”  (Interpretation, Luke, Fred Craddock, p. 190.)

Jesus is also encouraging us to be as shrewd and clever about building his kingdom as this man is about protecting his future. Jesus is not commending the steward for his dishonesty. Remember that elsewhere he tells us to be “as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves” as we work to advance his kingdom. We have to know the ways of the world and be able to deal intelligently and with complete integrity as we navigate the twists and turns of this world.

As Craddock says, it is difficult for us to think of a “shrewd saint.” But when we look at the life of Jesus, he was able to think on his feet and maintain his integrity while sparring with those who tried to make him stumble. Jesus was not naïve or unsophisticated, and he was extremely intelligent.

We cannot serve both God and money, We cannot make money or power or things our master. That’s what was happening in Jeremiah’s time. People were worshipping idols, and heaven knows there are plenty of idols we can worship today if we choose to go that route.  But, Craddock writes, “…for all the danger in possessions, it is possible to manage goods in ways appropriate to life in the kingdom of God.” (Craddock, p. 191.)

Perhaps the most important idea in this gospel is Jesus’ observation that, “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in very little is dishonest also in much.” Craddock writes, “Most of us will not this week christen a ship, write a book, end a war, appoint a cabinet, dine with the queen, convert a nation, or be burned at the stake. More likely the week will present no more than a chance to give a cup of water, write a note, visit a nursing home, vote for a county commissioner, teach a Sunday School class, share a meal, tell a child a story, go to choir practice, and feed the neighbor’s cat.” (Craddock, p. 192.)

But faithfulness in these small, everyday things is what builds the foundation of the shalom of God.

As we read through the lessons and think about them, often it is the epistle that gives us the clear and timely direction we need. Paul is encouraging Timothy and us to remember how important prayer is. God constantly calls us to be partners with God, and prayer is one powerful way to do this. I think of prayer as a powerful force field of God’s love and healing. For example, if everyone on this planet were praying and working for peace with everything we have, we would have peace. When people are praying for folks who are having surgery or fighting cancer, things happen. Surgery goes better, healing happens faster and more completely. Cancers have been known to disappear. We cannot overestimate the importance of prayer.

Paul is especially asking us to pray for those in positions of authority. This is important at any time in history. But especially now, we are called to pray and to ask God’s help and guidance for the leaders and people of the world.

This Sunday,  I ask your continuing prayers for peace on earth and for all who are working for peace.  Amen

Pentecost 17 Proper 19C RCL September 15, 2013

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
 Psalm 14
 Timothy 1: 12-17
 Luke 15:1-10
In our opening lesson from Jeremiah, God’s people have strayed from God’s values of compassion. The ultimate result is that their society is crumbling and that they will suffer a foreign invasion.
In his letter to Timothy, his student and apprentice, Paul expresses his gratitude to Jesus, who has called Paul to minister in Jesus’ name and has given Paul grace to carry out his ministry even though Paul was, in his own words, “a persecutor and a man of violence.” As we know, until he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul was totally dedicated to killing the followers of Jesus.
In our gospel for today, we see Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who leaves the ninety-nine sheep who are safe and secure and goes out to rescue the one who is lost and in danger.
Our lessons and collect for today lead me to take some time to reflect on a topic we had discussed some time ago, and some folks had asked for some reflections on this topic of Original Sin and Original Blessing.
There is one strain of Christian theology that was strongly promoted by St. Augustine of Hippo, who had led a wild life before he finally found faith. This theology says that all of us are born sinners. Even little babies are born sinners, and we will all be very bad people and will do bad things except for the grace of God. This is also the theology that says that unbaptized babies will go to hell or limbo. And this theology says that we baptize babies to prevent them from going to hell or limbo. This theology makes God into a bad and hateful parent.
The theology of Original Blessing is a theology that looks at the account of the creation in the Book of Genesis and sees that, at every stage of that creation, there is a wonderful refrain, “ and God saw that it was good.” Original Blessing, or Creation Theology, also says that God created people as good. Little babies are not horrible sinners bent on doing evil. They are wonderful little human beings who are curious, open to love and learning. They need good guidance from all of us to grow up and be creative people.
The theology of Original Blessing says that all people are created essentially good and that God has given us free will. We have choices.God loves us with all of God’s heart. God loves us unconditionally. God wants us to love God back. But, if God simply programmed us to love God and others, like robots or puppets, that love would mean nothing because it would not be our free choice. So God gives us free will.
The story of Adam and Eve in the Bible is an early attempt to explain how evil came into the world. Adam and Eve are given a beautiful garden and all they have to do is not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and, as we all know they eat the fruit. This story is the basis for the theology of Original Sin. Basically, the theology says, Adam and Eve committed that first, original sin, and now we are all afflicted with the sin that originated with them, namely, Original Sin. That theology says that we were all mired in sin, and God sent God’s only Son to free us from that curse.
The theology of Original Blessing, described by Matthew Fox in his book, Original Blessing, says that God created the world and it was good, and God created people and they are basically good. God gave us the gift of free will and we can make some humdingers of bad choices and messes, but God never stops loving us and is always there to help us.
This loving God would never condemn his Son to die as a sacrifice for us because God is not a God who needs sacrifices. Jesus is God walking the face of the earth, God came among us to lead us and guide us and show us how to live, how to love God and how to love other people.
We humans do have a tendency to want to do it our own way rather than to follow God’s guidance. This is what we call the sin of pride. We don’t want to stick to those boring old Ten Commandments. We don’t want to pursue the virtues of faith, hope, and love, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. We can find ourselves at times drawn almost irresistibly to pride, wrath, envy, greed, lust, gluttony, and sloth. We can be like two year olds. We don’t want to love God back and love our neighbor.
All of this means that we can sure use some good help, and that is why Jesus came to be with us, to show us the way, to be someone we can follow and to give us the grace and power to follow in his footsteps. This is our loving God seeing that we need help and grace and coming to be with us.
Because the creation is good and we are trying to follow Jesus, we are also called to cherish the creation—the earth, the oceans and lakes and rivers and seas and skies, the plants and animals, everything that God has given us. In other words, we are called to be good stewards of every part of the beautiful world that God has given us.
Celtic theology expresses many of these concepts in a beautiful way, and there was a Celtic theologian, Pelagius, who tried to express the idea that God made the creation good and saw that it was good, and this included people. But his words and ideas were twisted and misinterpreted, and he was branded a heretic.
I have always loved our collect for today. Here is the version from the 1928 prayer book. “O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
In this prayer, we are saying that without God we are not able to please God. Does this mean that we cannot do anything good without God’s help? Does this mean that we are helpless without God? I don’t think that is the meaning. I think the meaning is that God has created us good and that we can do many good things, and that God wants us to choose to be partners with God. God wants us to be co-creators with God in doing and creating good things, in taking care of the creation, in loving
God back and in loving others as God loves them. I think that it means that what pleases God the most is our accepting God’s love and loving God back. When we do that, our “hearts are fixed where true joys are to be found.” We will be following Jesus for the rest of our eternal lives.

Pentecost 16 Proper 18C RCL September 8, 2013

Jeremiah 18:1-11

Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

Philemon 1-21

Luke 14: 25-33

In our first reading for today, again from the prophet Jeremiah, we have the metaphor of God as the potter, shaping the life of God’s people. If we, as individuals and as a nation, seek the direction of God, we can allow God to mold and shape our lives and our life together in accordance with God’s will.

In our gospel, we are now back on the road to Jerusalem. Herbert O’Driscoll suggests that perhaps the crowds are growing too big and that Jesus wants to cull out those who are just curious and appeal to those who are in for the long haul. In any case, Jesus is telling us that following him is not easy. If we want to follow him, discipleship has to come first. Scholars tell us that the word translated as hating our families does not really mean hate in the sense that we think of it. The meaning is that we have to put following Jesus first. He is talking about a sense of priorities. Jesus is not calling us to hate our families.

This morning, though, I would like to focus on the reading from Paul’s Letter to Philemon because it has so much to teach us about the early Christian community and about our life in Christ.

Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He is still active and busy. Scholars point to many letters which he wrote during this time.

A young man named Onesimus arrives at Paul’s door. Onesimus is a runaway slave. Scholars tell us that, according to the law of that time in the Roman Empire, Onesimus could have been killed for running away and that Paul, in welcoming and sheltering Onesimus was committing an illegal action punishable by death. Yet we know that Paul is extending hospitality to this young man, something our loving God calls us to do. This is a higher law than the Roman law.

At first, Paul has no idea of the background of Onesimus, but, as time goes by and more of the facts emerge, Paul realizes that Onesimus is owned by a devout fellow Christian named Philemon, someone Paul has known, someone Paul converted and nurtured in the new faith. Philemon is a leader of the Church in Colossae, a community dear to Paul. Talk about a small world situation!

So here is Paul becoming a mentor and guide to young Onesimus and finding out that Onesimus belongs to someone else whom Paul has also mentored in the faith.

As time goes on, Paul realizes that Onesimus has many gifts, as all of us do, thanks be to God. Perhaps Onesimus is able to be a secretary to Paul and copy his letters. We do not know the details. Paul comes to love Onesimus as his own son, as his own heart.

And yet Paul knows the law, He knows that Philemon has the legal right to come and capture Onesimus and take him back to Colossae.

So Paul decides to send Onesimus back to his master and to beg Philemon not to kill Onesimus as a criminal who has run away but to welcome Onesimus, not as a slave or as a possession, but as a brother in Christ.

Paul is an expert on the law, and he also acknowledges that while Onesimus has been away, Philemon has suffered a financial loss because he has not had the services of Onesimus. So Paul offers to pay Philemon for this loss.

Because Paul has been Philemon’s teacher and mentor and because Paul has a high rank in the community, he could command Philemon’s obedience to his request, but he does not do that. He describes their friendship as brothers in Christ; he recalls all the good work they have done together in the past to spread the love of Christ; he commends Philemon for his ministry in the community at Colossae; and then he calls Philemon to be obedient to the values of the kingdom of Christ. Paul says that, in sending Onesimus home to Philemon, he is sending his own heart, and he asks Philemon to welcome his slave as he would welcome Paul, his teacher and mentor.

This letter, so real, so practical, so deeply emotional, expresses the theology of our Lord’s shalom. The last shall be first, the first last. Jesus is turning the world upside down, and we see it happening in this letter from Paul to a beloved brother he has nurtured in the faith.

Paul gave this letter to Onesimus to take back to Philemon in the hope that Philemon would welcome Onesimus home, not punish him.

Paul, a Pharisee and a Roman citizen, knew the power of the law, but he also know the power of a higher law, the law of love in Christ. We don’t know what happened to Onesimus or to Philemon, Did Onesimus return to Philemon and give him the letter? What did Philemon do? We do not know for sure. But we can imagine.

Here we see Paul building the new community, In his Letter to the Galatians, he writes, “In Christ, there is no slave nor free, no Jew nor Greek, no male nor female, but we are one in Christ Jesus.” Here he is living out these words.

Loving and gracious God, you are always seeking us; you are always loving us. Help us to be open to your guidance. Help us to seek and do your will. Help us to build the new community of love. Help us to follow where you lead. Amen.

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost—Proper 17C RCL September 1, 2013

Jeremiah 2:4-13

Psalm 81, 1, 10-16

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Our opening reading, from the prophet Jeremiah, dates back to 626 B. C. E. After God has been with the people every step of the way, guiding them from slavery into the promised land, they have turned to “worthless things,” to idols, specifically the worship of Baal, the fertility god.

In our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, we have a powerful and inspiring description, almost a blueprint, for life in Christian community. We are called to love each other, to extend hospitality, which means to love everyone we meet. We are called to “remember those who are in prison and those who are being tortured.” I know we are all praying for those who are suffering in Syria, as well as in other places around the world. We are called to be faithful to our spouses. We are called to put money in its proper place as a gift from God and not to be caught up in greed. And above all, we are called to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our gospel for today picks up on these themes. In the part left out at the beginning of the reading, Jesus has just healed a man with palsy on the Sabbath. As we have noted, he is always calling us to look at the spirit of the law, not the letter. He is available to heal and free people. Seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.

Jesus is invited to go to a Sabbath meal at the home of a Pharisee. Scholars tell us that when a host planned a meal in those days, he was very careful to place each guest in the appropriate seat according to his social status. Especially at an important event such as a wedding feast, people were vying for the places of honor. This was just the way it was. Status was everything.

Into this stratified setting, Jesus brings the vision of his kingdom, his shalom, where the last shall be first and the first shall be last. He tells us not to jostle for position, not to seek the limelight. He says to sit in the most humble place. He is not talking about that kind of false pride which goes and sits in the back seat hoping to be recognized and given the place of honor. He is talking about true humility, total lack of selfcenteredness. The word “humility,” as we know, comes from the root word humus, good, fertile soil open for planting. When we are people of humility, we are open to God’s leading and teaching and love and healing. We are not concerned about power and prestige and status. We know that God loves us more than we could even imagine. And that is enough for us. We are beyond the old world-weary template of seeking power and prestige. We are more interested in helping others than in finding fame and fortune for ourselves. The quality of humility, and the gifts of love and hospitality are clearly evident here at Grace, and that is one reason among many why it is such a joy to be with you.

Jeremiah’s words, written down by his scribe Baruch, may date back almost three thousand years, but we humans still forsake God and worship idols. Most analysts agree that the sin of greed was a major factor in creating the Great Recession. Jesus said that we cannot serve God and money, but some of us haven’t gotten that message. That is one of the major idols in our world today. Power and prestige are two others. There are many groups and people who would scoff at Jesus’ words in today’s gospel. But we do not scoff. We take our Lord’s call to humility very seriously.

Our epistle for today never ceases to amaze me. What fresh, timeless words to live by. Love for everyone, hospitality—feeding and welcoming everyone, and faithfulness in word and deed are the foundation stones of our life together.

This past Wednesday we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the I Have a Dream Speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The work of achieving equality for all people is essential to the bringing in of God’s kingdom.

We are also praying and thinking about what is going on in Syria. Driving in the car on Friday, I heard a report from a BBC correspondent in which a father was bringing in his seven month old son for treatment after one of the attacks. The father had been injured as well. My baby grand daughter had just left the day before. The little seven month old baby boy was crying constantly from his wounds. His cries sounded just like the cries of my grand daughter, just like the cries of any baby.

I am not trying to say anything about what we should do in this situation, but these two events this week are both part of the fabric of God’s kingdom, the big family that God is trying to create.

When we are called to “let mutual love continue,” and to extend hospitality to strangers, that includes our brothers and sisters of all races. It transcends and dissolves all barriers that are set up to divide people. And it is based on the truth of God’s love for all people. Those babies and children crying are our grandchildren and our nieces and nephews in the family of God.

The other news story that I happened to see on TV was about a hospital in Israel that is taking in patients who have been injured in Syria. The doctors and other medical personnel are Jewish. The Syrians have been long-term enemies. The medical folks are highly skilled. The care given to burn victims and children and adults who need amputations requires extensive training and expertise. The monetary value of this care is extremely high, in the thousands upon thousands for each patient. The medical folks have no idea where any payment is going to come from. People are bringing these patients to them and one of the doctors said, “They need help, and we are helping them.” That is the shalom of God.

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”