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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:…

Christmas II Year B RCL January 4, 2015

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Psalm 84
Ephesians 1: 3-6, 15-19a
Luke 2:41-52

Our opening reading from the prophet Jeremiah is from the so-called “Consolation” portion of Jeremiah’s book. Much of Jeremiah’s ministry took place during troubled times. There were all kinds of international intrigues and alliances, wars, corrupted leadership, and all kinds of problems.

In this passage, Jeremiah is telling the people that God is going to bring them home from exile. God is going to make the journey easy for them. Jeremiah says that the life of the people is going to become “like a watered garden,” lush and full of growth. And when they get home, there is going to be a party. The young women will dance; the men will be merry. Mourning will turn into joy.

Jeremiah begins the passage with the command to “Sing aloud with gladness.” He calls the people to celebrate their return with praise to God.  In an age when so many people are in exile or are refugees, we are blessed to be already at home. But this reading makes an important point. There is much value and grace in praising God. Maybe this is why we all love to sing.

In our epistle, Paul touches upon a theme which we heard in our epistle last Sunday—that, because of Christ, we have become children of God. Paul prays that God may give the Ephesians and us “a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know him, so that, with the eyes of our hearts enlightened, [we] may know what is the hope to which he has called [us], what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.” As “the eyes of our hearts are enlightened,” we grow in faith and hope; we gain a deeper sense of God’s many gifts to us; and we grow into a more profound sense of God’s power to help us in every event and part of our lives. No matter how challenging or distressing a situation may be, God has the power to guide us through it.

On this Second Sunday after Christmas, our lectionary gives us three choices for our gospel. One is the story of the Wise Men coming to worship Jesus. Another is the story of the Flight into Egypt, when the angel warns Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt to keep the baby Jesus safe from King Herod. At various times over the past several years, we have looked at both those gospels.

The third choice is from Luke, which we have just heard. All of us who are parents, and most of us who are not literal biological parents, are well aware that, with any child, you have to do your best, try to be a good example, work hard to train them up in the way they should go and grow, and then, at one point or another, they are going to make their own choices. Sometimes they are good and healthy choices and sometimes they are not. When our children make not so great choices, and when they have to go through pain as a result of those choices, we as parents go through agony.

This gospel is not about Jesus making a bad choice. It is about Jesus being who he truly is. Mary and Joseph were faithful in the observance of their religion. They have gone to Jerusalem for the Passover. In those days, when you went to Jerusalem for a festival, you went with your extended family. Whenever you traveled, you went with a large group because it was dangerous to travel alone. There were robbers and other dangers along the way.

So it takes  time before Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is not in the large family traveling party. He’s twelve years old. He probably likes to walk with Uncle Zechariah, who can tell one great story after another, or Aunt Rachel, who carries  the best snacks to munch as you walk along. So, they gave gone a day’s journey before Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is not there. This is not bad parenting. It’s just that there was a big crowd of relatives among other big crowds of relatives traveling home from the Passover.

Now Mary and Joseph both know that Jesus is the Son of God. But it’s one thing to know on a theoretical level and another thing to know on this experiential level. They look for him among the crowd of relatives and friends. Then they rush back to Jerusalem, worried sick.

They search for three days. Can you imagine your twelve year old child being lost for three days? This is a parent’s nightmare. Finally, they find him in the temple learning from the teachers there. And he asks them, “Don’t you know that I must be in my father’s house?”  What a shock for them!” He does go home with them and is obedient to them. But now they know that, at any moment, he may go off to serve his heavenly Father. The text says, “His mother treasured these things in her heart.” Did she have any idea where this would lead? Did she have any idea how much strength she would have to have in order to go through life with her extraordinary son?

Jesus was fully human and fully divine. We know this. But sometimes it is good to contemplate what this meant to Mary and Joseph. What faith and grace it took for them to be such good parents to Jesus. Joseph was such a fine role model for all fathers. When God chose Mary for her amazing and challenging ministry as God-bearer, this put  Mary and Joseph in an awkward position. Joseph rose to the occasion, marrying Mary and protecting Mary and Jesus. We need a lot more fathers like Joseph on this planet. As I have said before, we have several in this congregation.

As Jesus grew, I think  both Mary and Joseph began to have some idea of how difficult things were going to get. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Jesus was a different kind of King, a king  who wasn’t going to use his divine power to hurt others in order to save or defend himself. I think the shadow of the Cross fell upon their lives quite early on. Yet they persevered.

I think that we can safely say that the eyes of their hearts were enlightened. They were able to face every situation with faith and hope. May we follow their example.  Amen.

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