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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:…
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Lent 4B RCL March 15, 2015

Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

In our first reading, we join God’s people on their journey to the promised land. The people are impatient. They are complaining again.  They encounter a particularly terrifying challenge. They come upon poisonous snakes. When the snakes bite the people, the people die.

God tells Moses to make an image of a poisonous snake and put it on a pole. When the people are bitten and they look at the image of the serpent, they will live.  In a sense, the bronze serpent on the pole is an icon to allow the people to connect with the healing power of God.

Once again, in spite of the people’s complaining, God saves them.

God is constantly leading us to freedom, and we humans struggle with the journey, but God always takes care os us. When we are hungry, God gives us manna; when we are thirsty, God gives us water; when we crave meat, God gives us quail. Yet we forget God’s care and we grumble about how difficult the journey is.

Every one of those people who followed Moses out of Egypt knew that they were leaving a life of slavery and going to the promised land. Every one of those people knew that God was leading them. Yet how quickly we forget. Have you ever made a decision after deeply sincere prayer and  careful thought and then second guessed yourself and God’s leading? I think most of us have done that.

That is why these readings from the wilderness journey of God’s people are so important—because they remind us that we humans can so easily forget that God is with us, leading and guiding us. And we can let ourselves  become confused to the point where we think that the comforts of life in slavery are better than the journey to freedom.

In our reading from Ephesians, we are reminded that, when we humans were living according to the flesh, that is, when we were living self-centered lives, when we were wandering around in that wilderness of self-absorption, God, in God’s love, “made us alive together in Christ…and raised us up with him…” Before we humans even thought to ask God, God had already reached out to save us from ourselves.

The kindness and care and mercy of God are truly amazing. Before we humans even realized how much we needed God’s help, God came into the world to save us, to make us whole, to make us well, to heal us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

In our gospel for today, Jesus refers to our opening reading. Like the bronze image of a serpent lifted by Moses to save and heal the people, Jesus will be lifted up to turn death into life. Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “Jesus sees himself as the healing serpent. raised by the obscene act of crucifixion yet giving healing to those who look.” (The Word Today, Year B Vol. 2, p. 31.)

We are walking the Way of the Cross, and it is not easy. We know that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, out in front of the flock, leading us, but it is easy to forget this when the going gets tough. We may be facing a particular challenge in our lives.  We have been told that God never gives us something that we can’t bear with God’s help, but we may be wondering about that. We may even be grumbling a bit. And it is okay to grumble to God. It is okay to say, “Lord, this is really tough. I need some help with this.” In fact, that is the greatest prayer there is—“Help!”  Lord, help.

When the people were struggling in the wilderness, God was right there. Before we even knew we needed God, God was right here with us. God, Jesus, and the Spirit are here with us now. God loves us so much that God walked into and through death itself so that we don’t have to be consumed by fear. Instead, we can be rooted and grounded in faith and we can have new life.

Are we struggling? Do we have fears? Let us look up and look into the face of our Lord and Savior. Let us see the love in his eyes. Let us feel the grace that he is pouring out upon us. Whatever may be troubling us, let us see and know that he is in our midst, that he is giving each of us the strength we need to walk with him and to walk in his light and life.

Are we full of joy? Are our lives full of peace? Let us look into the eyes of our Lord and see the peace and joy that He is bestowing upon us.

Whatever may be going on on our lives, let us look to our Lord. Let us ask him for what we need, and let us have faith that he is as close as our breath. He came to save us before we even thought to ask him.

Here is a canticle by St. Anselm of Canterbury:

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.

Often you weep over our sins and our pride,
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment.

You comfort us in sorrow and bind up your wounds,
in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us.

Jesus, by your dying, we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy.

Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness;
through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear.

Your warmth gives life to the dead,
your touch makes sinners righteous.

Lord Jesus, in your mercy, heal us;
in your love and tenderness, remake us.

In your compassion, bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven, may your love prepare us.

May His blessing be with us always.   Amen.

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