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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:…

Christmas 1 Year B RCL December 28, 2014

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 147:13-21
Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
John 1:1-18

The scene of our first reading is around the year 539 B. C. God’s people have been in exile in Babylon (Iraq) for almost sixty years, in those days, three generations. King Cyrus of Persia (Iran) has conquered the Babylonian Empire and is allowing the exiles to return home.

Just imagine the scene in Babylon. The news spreads, “We’re going home! Were going home!” This is wonderful news. The people pack up and make the long journey. But when they get there, the temple is in ruins. Many buildings are in ruins. The land has been ravaged.

They want to rebuild. But they become deeply discouraged. Herbert O’Driscoll suggests that, if we want to try to imaging their plight, we should look at pictures of the destruction of war—the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, for example. Whole cities in ruins. This is how it was. The people were overwhelmed. They were paralyzed, They had no idea how and where to begin.

Into this situation, God calls the prophet Isaiah to give the people hope, to share with them God’s vision of restoration and renewal. Jerusalem is going to rise up out of the rubble and become a city of light and life. Isaiah is the one who inspires the people to get to work and tackle this huge job. Thank God for our cheerleaders who can inspire us to carry out God’s vision.

Our epistle today says so much. If all we had was the law, the Ten Commandments, we would feel like prisoners. There are things we are supposed to do, and when we do not do them, we feel awful. There are things we are not supposed to do, and when we fail and do those things. when we break God’s commandments, we are imprisoned in or own sense of our weakness and sinfulness.

Into this situation of hopelessness, God sends God’s son and God adopts us as God’s own children. This is mind boggling. Remember when we read the Book of Exodus and Moses is going up the mountain to meet God? Only Moses can get that close to God. The belief then was that you could not see God and live. Now that Jesus has come among us, we are able to call God “Abba.” This is a very intimate term, like Dad or Mom. Because of Jesus we are that close to God our divine parent. We are not caught in the prison of sin and hopelessness. We are surrounded by love and grace. We can get free of sin. We can grow and change. There is help. We are children of God. We are children of light.

Our gospel today is the prologue to the gospel of John. We have the story of Jesus’ birth under such humble circumstances, shepherds and kings coming to worship him, the whole creation rejoicing, the whole world filled with music and light and love.

St. John was trying to explain the meaning of the birth of Jesus. He was putting the story we know so well into philosophical terms that would be understood by both Jews and Greeks.

Jesus is the Word, the logos, the plan, the pattern for life. Jesus is the one who has called the whole creation into being. Remember Robert Farrar Capon’s wonderful description of creation in The Third Peacock? God thinks up the creation and Jesus, the Word, together with the Spirit, makes it all happen. The Word, the One who called the world into being, has now come among us. God has come among us.

God walking the face of the earth was not accepted by everyone. But there were some people who did see who Jesus really was—Mary and Martha and Lazarus. who gave him hospitality and support, his earthly father, Joseph, who protected Jesus and Mary so carefully, his Mother, Mary, the apostles, Mary Magdalene. There were people he healed like the man born blind, people he met, who could see deeply into spiritual reality, people like the woman at the well, who ran into the village to tell folks about him. The little people. The powerful people were too busy protecting their turf to be able to recognize him. But the little people could see immediately who he was. The light was coming into the world, full of grace and truth. Those with humility, openness of spirit, could see that. We know that.

We are children of God. Jesus is our brother. God is as close as our breath. In Jesus, God became incarnate, embodied, enfleshed.

I know we all love to sing. Here is a hymn which express the meaning of our gospel today.

O Most mighty! O most holy!—Song Sheet

Amen.

Advent 4B RCL December 21, 2014

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Canticle 15
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

In our first lesson today, King David tells the prophet Nathan that he wants to build God a house, a temple. Nathan supports the idea. But then God lets Nathan know that God has done just fine without a house all these years, traveling with flexibility in tent and tabernacle, and, in fact, God called David when he was just a shepherd boy and made David a king. God says that God is going to make God’s own house, and that is going to be the House of David, that is, the kingship of David and his descendants.

Out of respect for God, we make houses for God, and this is a good thing. But Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “In our Western culture we have certainly moved God out of anything resembling a tent into countless great houses. Are we paying a price for this, now that we once again need to be freed up to discover new ways of communicating Christian faith and of forming Christian community?”

He goes on to say, “Sometimes small groups work quietly with a low profile. Could we call this the ‘tent mode’ of doing God’s work? Sometimes the whole church becomes involved, acting publicly or even politically. Could we call this the ‘temple mode’ of doing God’s work. This is not an ‘either-or’ but a ‘both-and’ situation.”

As we know from history, David’s son, Solomon, did build God a temple in Jerusalem.

Once again, we say the Song of Mary, this week in the contemporary version. The shalom of God turns the world upside down.

Then, in our epistle, Paul is concluding the Letter to the Romans with a call to the obedience of faith in Christ Jesus.

In our gospel, we have one of the most powerful role models for obedience, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Here is this very young woman, engaged to an older man, Joseph, a carpenter, a men of deep faith. An intelligent, intuitive, and courageous man. Here is Mary going about her life, maybe doing the washing or the cooking, and the angel Gabriel comes to visit her! She is not an Important Personage. She lives in a little out of the way place called Nazareth, in that borderline region called Galilee, definitely not a center of any kind of political or other power. In the Bible, angels are not as they are on TV and in movies. They don’t look that human. I think of them as huge beings pulsating with light and power, but I owe that concept to Madeleine L’Engle. The point is, Biblical angels are scary.

Gabriel’s greeting is positive, “Greetings, favored one. The Lord is with you! Just imagine Mary. An angel, one of the chief angels at that, is coming to tell her the Lord is with her? Most people would faint. Mary doesn’t. And we are not surprised, for we know that the steel within her enabled her to stand at the foot of the cross later on

The angel tells Mary that she is going to give birth to the Savior. This is like an angel going to some very out of the way place and telling a young hotel maid that she is going to be president. It is mind-boggling. Mary remains centered. Her mind does not go out the window. In this situation,most of us would be numb. We would not be able to think clearly. But Mary does not lose concentration. In fact, she is actually able to ask a logical question: “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel tells her that the Holy Spirit is going to do this. Furthermore, Gabriel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth has conceived in her old age.

God’s creative and saving Spirit is breaking in. Miracles are happening all over the place. “Nothing will be impossible with God,” says our gospel.

And Mary, still completely centered, replies, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” “Here am I,” the same words Abraham uses when God calls him to pull up stakes and start w hole new life in the land of Canaan. The same words all faithful servants of God use to say, “Yes, Lord, I am here. I have faith in you. I will do your work.”

Right after this, Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She is a wise person. We know this from the unwavering faith and determination she shows throughout her life. She goes to visit her kinswoman, her sister in the faith. They are both having similar experiences. They will be able to support each other. Mary knows that we should never make the journey of faith alone. We should always seek wise people who can understand our experiences because their journeys are similar to ours.

God is on the move. God choses the most unlikely people and places to do miracles. God loves the little people and the little places. God exalts the humble and meek.

Christmas Eve is coming. We will gather to celebrate the birth of our Lord, who knows exactly what it is like to be human because he was and is one of us, and he is also the Son of God, He is fully human and fully divine.

God is still doing miracles. Don’t be surprised if an angel drops by to visit you. Don’t be surprised if God calls you to do something you would never have dreamed of. God is full of surprises. God is full of miracles. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Amen.

Advent 3B RCL 12/14/14

Isaiah 61:1-4. 8-11
Canticle 3
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Our opening reading this morning is from the prophet Isaiah. He is proclaiming a message of hope to the people exiled in Babylon. They are going to go home. They will rebuild the temple. This reading also describes Gods kingdom. The oppressed will hear good news. The wounds of the brokenhearted will be mended. There will be peace.

 Herbert ODriscoll reminds us that it was this lesson that Jesus read when he visited the synagogue in Nazareth. This reading describes Jesusministry of healing and forgiveness. It also describes the shalom that we are building with him. We, too, are called to share good news and to help those who are hurting.

 Our Canticle this morning, the beautiful and beloved Magnificat, the Song of Mary, is another description of the Kingdom, the shalom of God. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.The shalom of Christ holds up the values of simplicity, compassion, meekness, mercy, humility, healing, and peace to a world which needs these things so badly but in its headlong rush to power has little time to recognize the treasure of this other kingdom right in our midst.

 Our epistle this morning is short, but it says so much. Like us, the early Christians were waiting for our Lord to come and set things right. Waiting is not just a passive thing. It is active and expectant.

 Paul tells us some things we can do so that, like the maidens waiting for the bridegroom to come, we can keep oil in our lamps and we can be ready for his arrival. Paul writes, Rejoice always.No matter what is going on in our lives or around us, we are called to be people of joy because we are one with Christ. We have all met people whose faith is so deep that they can reach to those springs of joy.

 Pray without ceasing,Paul tells us. Now, there is a tall order. How can we pray constantly? I think this is more of a goal than something we can achieve. The ancient Jesus Prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.is an attempt to carry out this command to pray without ceasing. We breathe in, saying Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,and we breathe out, saying ,Have mercy on me, a sinner.A shorter version of the prayer is to say Jesusas we breathe in, and mercyas we breathe out. Thus, we are breathing in the presence of our Lord, and we are letting go of our sins and accepting his mercy as we breathe out. The point is that, with each breath, we are praying. The more constantly we pray, the closer we are to Jesus, and the more faith and joy we have.

Give thanks in all circumstances.Now, there is a challenge. Give thanks when we have just lost a job? Or when someone we love has received a devastating diagnosis? Or when a family member is having huge problems? Yes, give thanks in all things. Not because we like to have brokenness in our lives and the lives of those we love, but because we know that our Lord is with us, to help us get through these times.

 Do not quench the Spirit.Gods Holy Spirit is at work in us and in the world. The Holy Spirit is at work in all times and in all things, even when we cannot see it. We need to be careful to look for the presence of the Spirit and to nurture the work of the Spirit. Whenever good news is being spread and whenever the brokenhearted are being helped, the Spirit is at work. Whenever the fruits of the Spirit are presentlove, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, there the Spirit is at work.

 To summarize, rejoice, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, dont quench the Spirit, look for the presence of the spirit. These are some of the things we are called to do in order to get ready for the coming of our Lord.

In our gospel, we read about that amazing figure, John the Baptist. His ministry was to call us to repentance. As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we examine our lives and confess those sins of omission and commissionthings we ought to have done but did not do, and things we ought not to have done but did anywayand we ask Gods forgiveness and ask God to give us the grace to amend our lives. We clean out our spiritual clutter and make room for our Lord in our lives and hearts.

At this darkest time of the year, we know that the light is coming into the world.

Dear Lord, source of all love and grace, help us to make room for you in the inns of our hearts. Amen.