• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • 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:…

Pentecost 3A RCL June 29, 2014

Genesis 22:1-14

Psalm 13

Romans 6:12-23

Matthew 10:40-42

Our first reading this morning, the story of Abraham’s possible sacrifice of Isaac, is agonizing and shocking.  It is also one of those portions of the lectionary which illustrates how important it is to pay attention to the context of a lesson from the Bible.

Scholars tell us that this passage was written by the Elohist writer, who worked around 750 B. C. But the story itself comes from a much earlier time, around 1600 B. C., when Abraham came into the land of Canaan.

At that time,  some of the people of that region believed that the gods they worshipped demanded human sacrifice, including the sacrifice of children. This seems truly horrible to us,  but these kinds of beliefs have been held around the world over the years. Some scholars have wondered whether Abraham, coming into this new land, thought his God might be calling him to sacrifice his son Isaac, and have theorized that that idea is the reason for this story.

The story is poignant and wrenching. Would God ever ask us to sacrifice our children? Would God have let Abraham kill Isaac? The answer is No. God does not want us to sacrifice children. God calls us to protect children.

Biblical scholar Thomas Troeger writes, “ If we consider the story from the perspective of ancient society, then we may be freed to glimpse its redemptive meaning. The story rejects the sacrifice of children. In the middle of the story, Abraham says that God will provide a lamb for the offering, and God later instructs Abraham, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him.’” (22:12) (New Proclamation, Series A, 1999, p. 129.)

Our understanding of God has evolved over the centuries. At one time, people were terrified of God, probably because they were so aware of God’s power and so accustomed to the use of power to dominate and control and instill fear. Over the centuries, and especially because we now know our Lord Jesus Christ, we have been able to realize that God loves us and wants us to offer, not human beings or animals, but our hearts and lives to be renewed and transformed. Throughout this whole journey up the mountain, Abraham has the faith that God will provide the offering.

This passage applies to some complicated and disturbing events that are going on in our own area right now. We have seen the deaths of three young children, and all three had been under the supervision of our Department of Children and Families.  This reading about Abraham and Isaac lets us know that God wants us to make sure that all children are nurtured and kept safe.  This is going to be a complex and challenging task.

In our epistle for today, we have another example of a cultural context which is different from our society. In St. Paul’s time, slavery was common all over the Roman Empire. It was a fact of life. If you were a slave, you had to do whatever your master said to do. If you were free, you were not under such constraints. Paul is telling us that freedom in Christ does not mean that we can do anything we please. Freedom in Christ is choosing to ask him what he would have us do, and then, with his grace, walking in his footsteps and doing his will.  We are called to give our lives to our Lord. so that he can lead us and guide us.

Today’s gospel is the closing section of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples. He is sending them out into the world. They will be depending on the hospitality of others. Scholars tell us that the term “little ones” does not necessarily mean children. Jesus referred to his followers as “little ones” and children. He called us to become as children. Children are open and trusting. That is how we are called to be in relationship to God.

So the context here is that Jesus’ followers are going out to share the good news. How will they be received? We know that some were treated very badly. Some were persecuted. Some were killed. They were scorned and ridiculed, ignored, told to go away.

Sometimes they were welcomed with open arms and invited to stay with a family for days, even weeks at a time. A new family was being formed by these ties as the disciples traveled around. That family now spans the globe and crosses every race and country and culture.  That family is the communion of saints, the big family of God. When we read this very brief but meaningful gospel, we usually focus on the hospitality we are called to offer in the name of Jesus. And, yes, we are called to treat everyone as if he or she were our Lord.

Let us for a moment look at this from the point of view of a disciple, traveling from town to town. It is hot and dusty and your feet are sore, and every bone in your body aches. You go to the door and someone offers you a drink of cold water. This means that they know how hot and tired and dusty you are. This is true caring. They may not say much of anything, but you know they care.  These caring actions are the core of our ministry. When a disciple went to a home and was welcomed in this way, that was often the first step in a strong and deep friendship in Christ.

What are these lessons telling us? Our first lesson reminds us that God calls us to cherish children, nurture them, keep them safe from harm, and help them grow in every way. Like Abraham, we are called to trust that God will provide. We are partners with God and we must do our part, but God’s grace and generosity are amazing.

Our epistle reminds us that, as the Collect for Peace says, to serve God is “perfect freedom.” Following Jesus leads us to paths we would not have dreamed of. And our gospel teaches us that prayer and closeness to our Lord lead to loving action and service to others.

Dear Lord, help us to care for your children.  Help us to put our lives in your hands so that we may follow you and help others in your name. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: