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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:…

Easter 6A RCL May 25, 2014

Acts 17:22-31

Psalm 66:7-18

1 Peter 3:13-22

John 14:15-21

In our opening lesson, or, we might say, scene, Paul is in Athens addressing a group of people. Paul is well educated. He knows a considerable amount about Greek philosophy. He is trying to share the good news about Jesus im terms the Greek people can understand.

Paul has found that the Greeks have a statue dedicated “to an unknown God,” and he is telling the people that they can come to know God.

Biblical scholar Carl Holladay tells us that Paul is using quotations from the Greek poets Epimenides, who wrote that “God is the one ‘in whom we live and move and have our being.” And from the Greek writer Aratus, who wrote that humans are “the offspring of God.” (Preachimg through the Christian Year-A, p. 277.) Paul is following a basic principle of evangelism—meet people where they are and speak in a language they understand. By doing this, he will lead these people to Christ.

In our passage from the first letter of Peter, we read advice to people who are suffering. Scholars tell us that this letter was addressed to a Christian community in Asia Minor. These people had adopted the new faith, but they were surrounded by non-Christians who were often hostile to them. He advises them to persevere in doing good, to do what they know is right, and to look to our Lord, who suffered, and, through that suffering, leads us into new life.

These new followers of Jesus were swimming against the stream. Their lives and their values were very different from those of the people living around them. As we all know, to be different can sometimes be threatening to people.  Recently, we have been learning a considerable amount about bullying, which often happens because someone is different. Persecution often happens for the same reasons

As more and more people joined the new faith community and became followers of Jesus, all kinds of situations developed. If you were a business person, for example, some people would no longer do business with you if you became a follower of Jesus. People looked askance at this new faith. So in addition to persecution from the Roman Empire, there were all kinds of smaller and more local and personal kinds of pressures and difficulties which could happen to those who chose to follow Jesus.

There is one part of this passage that I want to comment on just briefly. The epistle reads, It is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than suffering for doing evil.” It is never God’s will that someone should suffer. God’s shalom is a realm of peace, love, and respect for every person. But God has given human beings free will. We all have choices about how to behave. And some people choose to inflict suffering on other people. This is not in harmony with God’s will.

We still have no news of the young women who were abducted in Nigeria, and our own Titus Presler was beaten in Pakistan. Thank God he is now home. Hostility toward Christians is not just a thing of the past.  Bullying and persecution of any kind grieve the heart of God.

In our gospel, Jesus tells us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We reveal our faith in our attitudes and in our actions.

Our Lord tells the apostles that he is going to send the Holy Spirit to be with them and us forever. This is the Spirit of truth, but not truth in a black and white sense or in a narrow sense.  The Spirit of truth embodies the kind of truth that is reflected in the life of our Lord, a truth that involves peace, harmony, love, healing, and forgiveness.

Jesus tells the apostles and us that we already know the Spirit, because the Spirit is already with them and us.  That is because we and they have spent time with Jesus. We have walked with him and talked with him. We have learned from him. We have watched how he handles situations and how he treats people. The Spirit abides with us because of our life spent with our Lord. Abides is a key word in John’s gospel. It means staying with, but in a very active and lively sense. The Spirit abides with us in an active and alive way.

Jesus tells the disciples that he is going to leave them. He is going to ascend to the Father. The world will no longer see him, but we will see him because he is in us and we are in him. We are one with him and one in him. He ends by putting the action first. Those who keep his commandments are those who love him.

Our reading from Acts gives us Paul’s excellent example. If we are trying to share our faith, it is good to start where other people are and relate faith to their experiences and needs.

Our epistle addresses the issue of suffering, and specifically suffering for the faith.  As Christians, we can often feel as though we are marching to a different drummer or swimming against the stream of our culture. We are not being actively persecuted here in the United States, but we are often misunderstood. What some people define as “Christian” may not be what we are about. But it still a joyful thing to follow our Lord.

He is with us and we can feel his presence. His Spirit is with us to guide us.  May we love our Lord with all our hearts and mind and soul and strength, and may that love be evident in our actions.  Amen.

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