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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 Year B RCL February 18, 2015

Isaiah 58: 1-12
Psalm 103:8-14
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6”10
Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines penitence as “Sorrow for our sins or faults.” Webster’s says that to repent is “To turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.” Our opening reading from Isaiah calls us to penitence and to repentance. Scholars tell us that this reading goes back to the time when the exiles had returned from Babylon and were trying to rebuild the temple and the city. It was such a huge task that they were becoming discouraged, and they were falling away from God.

They were going through the motions of worship but they were not asking God’s help to change their behavior and attitudes. They were observing the fasts, but they were oppressing their workers. They were fighting with each other instead of working together, and they were wondering why God appeared not to be listening to their prayers.

In today’s gospel, Jesus addresses this same issue. As we fast and pray and give alms, we are doing these things, not for outward show, but to grow closer to God. In our epistle, Paul adds a further dimension to this when he calls us to “be reconciled to God.” This is a lifelong process.

Lent is a season of penitence and repentance. We confess to God that we have sinned, and we ask for God’s grace to change our lives, to grow closer to God. We kneel at the altar and receive ashes on our foreheads marking the sign of the cross. These ashes come from the palms strewn in the path of our Lord on Palm Sunday as we welcomed our hero. They have been burned. and now they remind us that “[we] are dust and to dust [we] shall return.”

Lent is a time of increased devotion to prayer, fasting, and giving. We take more time to be with God, to seek God’s will for our lives and just to spend time with God and Jesus and the Spirit and to bask in their presence. We fast. We give up something or things that give us pleasure. This self-discipline helps us to experience the profound self-giving of our Lord on the cross. And we try to increase our giving to others. We fast, not only as a discipline, but in order to share our food with others.

Although Lent is a penitential season and it involves serious work on our part with God’s help and grace, Lent is a time of growth. And there is joy in Lent, because, as we walk the way of the cross, we are moving into new life.The word “Lent” comes from the Middle English word “lente,” meaning “springtime.” As we all know, springtime is a season of growth.

As we move through this season, walking the way of the cross with our Lord, yes, it is hard work, and we will need his help as we keep our discipline, but it is important to remember that we are doing this in order to grow closer to God and to love God and our neighbor more. Every part of our Lenten discipline, every thing we give up or take on can teach us about our own frailty and limitations and our profound need for God’s grace. Our discipline will also teach us about God’s love for us, God’s unfailing willingness to give us grace and healing so that we can grow into the likeness of Christ.

One of our readings for Morning Prayer today is from the Letter to the Hebrews. It begins, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who, for the sake of the joy that was before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of God.”

May we follow him. May we run the race. May we become more like our Lord. Amen.

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