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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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Pentecost 15 Proper 18B RCL September 6, 2015

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Psalm 125
James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
Mark 7:24-37

Our reading from the Book of Proverbs makes some clear ethical statements. Biblical scholar James Newsome goes back to the Hebrew root words in our lesson. His translations would go something like this. “It is better to be known for your honesty and integrity than for great riches. A spirit of generosity and compassion is better than silver or gold.” We may think the rich and the poor are different from each other, but that is an illusion. God makes us all, and everyone is worthy of respect. There are strong warnings throughout the Bible not to take advantage of or oppress those who are vulnerable.

James is echoing the values of Proverbs. As Christians, we are called to treat all persons with respect and compassion, and we are called to take care of those who need food, water, clothing, shelter, and medical care. All of us have been praying for the refugees from Syria and other places who are trying to get to freedom in Europe. Episcopal Relief and Development has been working with this tragic situation together with many other organizations. I hope that we will consider making a special contribution to help in this effort.

In our gospel for today, Jesus is going into Gentile territory, into what we would call Syria.  He goes into a house. He has been surrounded by the crowd, and he is hoping for a respite. But a woman comes to him. Her daughter is very ill, and she is desperate and determined to get Jesus to heal the little girl.

At that time in history, Jews did not talk to Gentiles, and women did not talk with rabbis.  At this point in his ministry, Jesus is thinking that he is called to minister only to the Jewish people.  Perhaps he has begun to wonder if he is called to reach beyond those boundaries. In this extraordinary encounter, this courageous woman, this outsider who would be scorned by all those in authority, is also an excellent theologian.  She breaks through those boundaries and helps Jesus to realize that he is called to minister to everyone. Jesus heals her daughter, and he goes on to heal a man who has been unable to hear or speak.

One of the great blessings of the Church is that we celebrate saints’ days. On August 24, we celebrated St. Bartholomew. He is one of our capital S saints. But we have a lot of small s saints like you and me, and their feast days are found in Holy Women, Holy Men, formerly Lesser Feasts and Fasts. This past Tuesday, we remembered David Pendleton Oakerhater. His story illustrates  some of the points in our readings for today. Here is the account from Holy Women, Holy Men.

God’s Warrior” is an epithet by which David Pendleton Oakerhater  is known among the Cheyenne Indians of Oklahoma. The title is an apt one, for this apostle of Christ to the Cheyenne was originally a soldier who fought against the United States government with warriors of other tribes in the disputes over Indian land rights. By the late 1860s Oakerhater had distinguished himself for bravery and leadership as an officer in an elite corps of Cheyenne fighters. In 1875, after a year of minor uprisings and threats of major violence, he and twenty-seven other warrior leaders were taken prisoner by the U. S. Army, charged with inciting rebellion, and sent to a disused military prison in Florida.

Under the influence of a concerned army captain, who sought to educate the prisoners, Oakerhater and his companions learned English, gave art and archery lessons to the area’s many visitors, and had their first encounter with the Christian faith. The captain’s example, and that of other concerned Christians, from as far away as New York, had their effect on the young warrior. He was moved to answer the call to transform his leadership in war to a lifelong ministry of peace.

With sponsorship from the Diocese of Central New York and financial help from a Mrs. Pendleton of Cincinnati, he and three other prisoners went north to study for the ministry. At his baptism in Syracuse in 1878 he took the name David Pendleton Oakerhater, in honor of his benefactress.

Soon after his ordination to the diaconate in 1881, David returned to Oklahoma. There, he was instrumental in founding and operating schools and missions, through great personal sacrifice and often in the face of apathy from the Church hierarchy and resistance from the government. He continued his ministry of service, education, and pastoral care among his people until his death on August 31, 1931.

Half a century before, the young deacon had told his people, “You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road. a war that makes all for peace.”

The captain at that prison and the other Christians involved, lived out our readings for today. Back in the 1860s, in spite of their advanced language and culture, Native Americans were seen by some people as savages and less than human. Yet this captain and Mrs, Pendleton and the others saw David as a gifted fellow human being. Thank God for them and for David and his ministry. And I thank God for the openness and inclusiveness of Grace Church.

Let us pray the collect for the remembrance of David Oakerhater.

O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of deacon among them: Liberate us who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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