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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:…

All Saints’ Day Year B RCL November 1, 2015

Wisdom 3:1-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44

This morning, we celebrate the feast of All Saints. We remember all of the faithful people who have gone before us, all who are here now, and all who will come after us. We are part of a great cloud of witnesses, all the members of the Body of Christ who are knit together in our common faith. The saints give us deep  inspiration. They have run the race before us, and we can be spiritual athletes as they were.

Our first two readings give us an idea of what heaven is like. Our reading from the Book of Revelation says that, in heaven, God will be with us and will wipe every tear from our eyes. Heaven is a place where God’s joy and peace are completely present. Heaven is a place of safety. God’s reign of peace and protection is complete.

My beloved  mentor, David Brown, used to say, “Heaven is the best time we have ever had with the best friends we have ever had.” He used to talk about “the great fish-fry in heaven.” In other words, when we are in the presence of God and the angels, and all the saints, there is no mourning, only peace and joy. I think there is a great deal of laughter in heaven.

When we think of the Communion of Saints, that wonderful gathering of all the members of the Body of Christ, we remember our favorite saints, those who have inspired us, those whose example we have tried to follow. For example, my birthday is August 1 and the saint for that day in Holy Women, Holy Men, is Joseph of Arimathea, who had the courage to go to the authorities and ask permission to take Jesus’ body down off the cross and bury it in his own tomb. I am inspired by Joseph’s faith and courage, and I ask God to increase my faith and courage. My other birthday saint is Ethelwold, a tenth century monk who became Bishop of Winchester. He founded monasteries, translated books into English, and was a reformer, trying to bring the monasteries and his diocese into the highest levels of prayer and community life. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints notes, “St. Ethelwold…was merciless to the slack, full of sympathy for the good-willed and the unfortunate….”

Hilda of Whitby, Hildegarde of Bingen, Patrick, Francis of Assisi, and my name saint, John the Evangelist, are also favorites.

I share this by way of encouraging all of us to think about our favorite saints. Please let me know yours.

As another of my mentors, Al Smith, long time rector of St. James, Essex Junction, used to say, “There are capital S saints and small s saints.” The much-loved hymn, “I sing a song of the saints of God,” beautifully reflects that fact. In the early Church, letters were addressed to the saints in Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, and other places, We are all small s saints because we are members of the Body of Christ, each offering our God-given gifts to build the kingdom, the shalom of God.

The tune we use for this hymn was written by John Henry Hopkins, the grandson of our first bishop, who was also named John Henry Hopkins. As we look in our hymnals on page 293, we note that the tune is called Grand Isle, where the Hopkins family home is located. Services are still held there each summer.

In today’s gospel, we read the powerful story of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus waits several days before he goes to Bethany. Lazarus is clearly and definitely dead. Mary tells Jesus she wishes he had come sooner so that he could have saved Lazarus. Martha points out that there is going to be a stench. Jesus cries at the death of his friend. Then Jesus calls Lazarus to life, and his beloved friend walks out of that dark tomb.

Perhaps that is the greatest gift we are offered as members of the Body of Christ and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We don’t have to be afraid of anything, even death. Jesus has the power to call us into new life. Death has no more dominion over us.

This week, we have our Grace Church timeline hanging on the wall. This is a work in progress. It is designed to give us a sense of the long life of the community of faith lasting almost two hundred years. Up until the nineteen-forties, we have the guidance of a history written by Frederika Northrop Sargent. We also have a history by Laura Crane. Dates from those two histories have been put on the timeline.

Frederika notes that sometime in the nineteen-forties, Grace was yoked with Holy Trinity, Swanton. Services continued. Grace Church never closed. One of our great saints, A J. “Jack” Soule, was Senior Warden for many years, and he made sure that Grace remained open. But things did quiet down considerably between the forties and the eighties.

In the 1980s, what Andy has called the “Grace Renaissance” began. Extensive and careful work was done on the building. The number of services increased, and there were other activities. A group of faithful small s saints , inspired by God’s grace and Vermont grit, shepherded this rebirth: Hoddie and Charlotte, Laura, Harriet, Geraldine, Gertrude, Ruth, and Gwen were our elder generation at that time. Sue, who has gone before us, and Andy used to alternate holding the office of Senior Warden and Treasurer and everything else.

Grace has a strong history of service to those near and far,  inclusiveness, accessibility, care for God’s creation, hospitality, concern for those at the margins and those who are most vulnerable, love of music, faithful worship, and compassionate community are some of the hallmarks of Grace Church.

The timeline is designed so that anyone can add a date or something you feel is important. Please feel free to make additions.

May we always sing a song of the saints of God, and may we thank God for all the saints who have gone before us and will come after us.

Amen.

 

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