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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:…

All Saints Sunday Year C RCL November 3, 2013

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1: 11-23
Luke 6: 20-31

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Daniel. This book is supposedly set in the sixth century B. C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile, but it was actually written during the persecution of the Jews under the notorious tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B. C.

The beasts symbolize four empires that conquered Jerusalem one after another: the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks. The lesson says that “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever.” This book was written to inspire God’s people to persevere in difficult and brutal times. Tyrants rise and fall, but the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Our gospel for today is from Luke—the Sermon on the Plain. In Matthew, it is the Sermon on the Mount, but Luke wants to make it clear that Jesus is on a level with the people, so he offers the Beatitudes from a “level place.”

Matthew has Jesus saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Blessed are those who admit their brokenness and their need for God. Luke has Jesus blessing the poor, not because Jesus thinks it is good or ennobling for people to be poor, but because he is telling us that, no matter what we are enduring, if we have faith in God, we are kingdom people who have genuine joy and hope. Matthew has Jesus blessing the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for his sake. In addition to the poor, Luke has Jesus blessing those who are hungry and those who weep.

These kingdom qualities—being poor in spirit or literally poor, being meek, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers—these are the qualities our society avoids or sneers at. But these are the qualities we are called to admire. These are the qualities of saints.

Each of the four gospels emphasizes different things about Jesus. The Rev. Al Smith of St, James, Essex Junction used to compare the writing of the gospels to eyewitness accounts of an accident at the five corners. He said that, if we had ten eyewitnesses who wrote accounts of just one accident, each one would notice different things and accentuate different aspects, but it would be the same accident.

Matthew tended to spiritualize the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This increased the latitude of the meaning. Even if we are not literally poor, if we are honest, we are all poor in spirit, We all need God’s help. Both Matthew and Luke are conveying the essential truth of Jesus’ description of kingdom people, shalom people. Many commentators point out that the Beatitudes are not commandments. Jesus is not saying, “Be like this.” Either we are like this or we are not.

Shalom people admit our brokenness and our need for God. We allow room for others. We don’t rush to the front of the line. We extend compassion to others. We try, with God’s help, to focus on God with all our hearts and minds. We try, with God’s help, to work for peace and reconciliation.

As many scholars have pointed out, the beatitudes are a complete reversal of the values of life in this world, For the most part, these qualities will not help us to climb the ladder of success or to get ahead in the world’s terms. Kingdom people think about the needs of others, opening literal and figurative doors for others. Letting people in line ahead of us. Sharing God’s abundance of love and healing and food and clothing and shelter, making room for those who may not have the kind of accessibility that we do. I see these values every day here at Grace. As Christians, we are all living into these values.

When he was here on earth, Jesus was creating a new family, a new community of love and healing and reconciliation. When people saw his vision of how the world could be, that vision strengthened their weak knees and set their hearts on fire.

The Letter to the Ephesians was a circular letter that was written to encourage the early Christians who gathered in house churches across the Roman Empire. Commentator Lance Pape writes of these small groups of the faithful centuries ago and asks, “How could they know that when the apostle spoke of the communion of saints it would include a throng of billions stretched across millennia?” (Pape, New Proclamation Year C 2013, p. 217)

We are part of the living, vibrant, Body of Christ. We have been knit together with millions of others into his Body. We are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” the Communion of Saints—those who have gone before us, those who are here now and those who will come after us, from Mary and Joseph, to Paul, to Ambrose of Milan, to Hilda of Whitby, to Teresa of Avila to Jonathan Myrick Daniels, to Pope Francis, to the people we meet in shops or at tea.

We are part of a living Body of people who are living these shalom values which Jesus gave us in his beatitudes. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism. We have had “the eyes of our hearts enlightened.” We have seen his vision of how he wants the world to be, and we are working toward creating that new world.

Loving and gracious God, thank you for the support of this great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. Thank you for your vision of a world brought to wholeness where everyone is loved and respected. Give us the grace to help you build your shalom. In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.