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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 Our Lord

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

Our first reading today is the First Servant Song from the prophet Isaiah. This passage dates back to a special and joyful time. The exiles are going home from Babylon.

Some scholars suggest that the servant described is the entire people of Israel, the people of God. Others state that this and other similar passages describe the messiah who will bring in a reign of justice for all people.  For us, this passage describes the qualities of a ministering community.

As Christians, we see the figure and ministry of Jesus in this description. He is quiet. He does not make a lot of noise. He is gentle. He does not break a bruised reed or quench a flickering flame. He is persistent and courageous. He will not stop until justice prevails over the whole earth.

We are called by God in love to open the eyes that are blind, to free people from all that imprisons them, to bring light to those in darkness. The revered scholar Herbert O’Driscoll  points out that nowadays, in our secular age, we do not think of a whole nation as reflecting this kind of spiritual character. (The Word Today, Year A, pp. 63-64), but he suggests that we as Christians can imagine and work toward creating this vision for our nation. What would it mean if a whole country were dedicating to healing and freeing people?

Our second reading is from the Book of Acts, Peter has just had his vision of the sheet of all kinds of meat and has heard the voice of God saying, “Kill and eat.” God is telling Peter that the dietary laws no longer apply. Christ has fulfilled the law. The gospel is for everyone. This is one of the great themes of the Epiphany season, that the good news is for all people and that God loves all people.

Peter is now called to the home of Cornelius, the Centurion. Cornelius is a faithful person, a seeker, but he is not a Jew. Cornelius has been guided by an angel to call on Peter to come to his home and has gathered his friends and family to hear Peter speak. When Peter finishes his sermon on God’s inclusiveness, the Holy Spirit falls on all the people gathered. This simply emphasizes the fact that God wants everyone to be a part of God’s family. So Peter and his helpers baptize all these people, and then they stay with them for several days. This is how the early Church grew and grew.

Our gospel for today is the baptism of Jesus. We know very little about Jesus’ life up to this point. We read in the gospels that the family made a trip at the time of the Passover to the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve, and that they started home only to discover that he was no longer with them. They went back to the Temple and found him there, and he said, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Together with the journey into Egypt to escape King Herod’s murder of the innocents, this is the only event we find in the gospels between Jesus birth and his baptism.

We can picture Jesus growing up in Nazareth. His earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter. We can imagine Jesus working in the shop and learning the carpenter’s trade from Joseph.

Many scholars think that Jesus and his cousin John the Baptist studied with the Essenes, a religious sect of that time. From the way Jesus conducted himself, I believe he studied the scriptures and knew and understood the law.

But now he is called to go to the banks of the Jordan River and allow John to baptize him. This will fulfill what has been written by the prophets. It will also be the beginning of Jesus’ formal ministry. He is about twenty-nine or thirty years old at this point.

Probably Joseph was dead by this time. He had been quite a bit older than Mary when they were married. But what did Mary think when Jesus said, “Well, I’m going off to the River Jordan to be baptized?” Among the many things she had to ponder in her heart was the moment when he would leave to go out into the world and begin his ministry.  Knowing him as she did, I think she had some idea of how it would all turn out.  Some of us are reading Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly. The brutality and violence of the world under the Roman Empire are hard to exaggerate. They were diametrically opposed to Jesus’ shalom. There was going to be a clash.

Jesus walks into the river and is immersed in the waters of the Jordan. Baptism comes from the Greek word for drowning. Our old identity is drowned. A new person is born. We receive a new identity. We are children of God and inheritors of the kingdom, the shalom, of God.

Each of us is called to live out the meaning of our baptism in our own lives, using the gifts and grace God gives to us. But all of us together are called to be that servant people, the People of God—gentle, caring, courageous. We are called to heal people, to free people. We are called to bring justice for everyone.

Just as the voice of God spoke to Jesus and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” so God speaks to each of us: “You are my own beloved child.” And God calls us to share in the servant ministry of Jesus.                  Amen.

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