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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:…

Ash Wednesday March 5, 2014

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Psalm 103:8-14
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21

Our first reading for this Ash Wednesday comes from the Book of Joel, one of the so-called minor prophets, such as Amos and Hosea, whose books are grouped at the end of the old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures. Scholars tell us that Joel lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah from 539 to 331 B. C. His ministry took place from about 400 to 350 B. C. This was during the time after the exiles had returned home from Babylon.

Scholars tell us that Judah is being invaded by a huge army of locusts, so many that they make the sky turn dark. This is a major disaster, something like Hurricane Katrina or Tropical Storm Irene in our own times. An enormous amount of damage is going to be done. The invasion of insects is compared to a military attack by an enemy.

In the face of this disaster, Joel, who is a prophet associated with the temple in Jerusalem, is calling the people to turn to God in worship. He is calling people of all ages, from babies who are still nursing to elderly people. He is calling people in all circumstances, even brides and bridegrooms. And he is calling us to “rend our hearts and not our garments,” in other words, to enter into sincere repentance, to turn our entire beings to focus on God and on God’s will for us, not merely to engage in external, rote worship. This is in complete harmony with the gospel for this day.

In our epistle for today, Paul is calling the Corinthians and us to “be reconciled to God.” This is a wonderful theme for Lent. We are called to seek God’s help in growing closer to God during these forty days.

Our gospel gives us so much good food for thought. Back in Jesus’ time there were some folks who would fast and pray and give alms in order to appear virtuous or to draw attention to themselves. Our Lord tells that our spiritual life is something very private, something that is between us and God. Jesus says that, when we fast and pray, we should not show any outward signs of this discipline, but we should anoint ourselves with oil and wash or face. In other words, as someone has said, “It’s an inside job.” We are called to do our spiritual work. We are called to do what we need to do in order to grow closer to God. But Jesus calls us not to make a show of our spiritual discipline. Our motive for praying and fasting and following our Lenten discipline is not to make a public display, but to engage in rigorous self-examination, acknowledge our sins to God, and receive God’s forgiveness.

And then our Lord calls us not to store up treasure on earth, but in heaven. Jesus is reminding us not to place our trust in material things, but to put our trust in him. It is so easy to lapse into materialism. It is so easy to begin to trust in the things of this world. But we are called to trust in God.

What a profound statement we have in this gospel: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We are called to consider our faith in God and our relationship with God as a great treasure in our lives.

Lent comes from the root word for spring, and Lent is a time of spiritual growth. It is a time when we follow a spiritual discipline, maybe giving up some things or taking on some things. All in order to grow closer to God. It is a process of metanoia, conversion, transformation. What we give up or take on is between each of us and God. Each of us has prayed and asked God’s guidance as we prepare to walk the way of the Cross.

We have seen our Lord transfigured on the mountain, and we want to grow into the persons God calls us to be. So we follow our Lenten discipline to allow that to happen. The ashes on our foreheads today were made from the palms strewn in his path on Palm Sunday. We are marked as Christ’s own forever. So we will walk with him and he will walk with us. And our journey will lead to a garden and a mock trial and a horrible death and then new life.

Lord Jesus, give us grace to walk the Way of the Cross faithfully with you. Amen.

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