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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:…
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Advent 1 Year C RCL November 29, 2015

Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-9
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Happy New Year! Advent is the New Year in the Church calendar. We change from lectionary year B to year C. Our vestments go from the green of ordinary time to the royal purple which is so appropriate as we prepare to welcome our King.

Advent is a season in which we look back to the first coming of our Lord as a baby in Bethlehem, We also look forward to his Second Coming, when he will bring in his shalom, his kingdom, and restore the creation to the harmony, justice, peace, love, and wholeness which he has always intended. And there is also a third aspect to the Advent season because we realize that our Lord is constantly breaking in to this world with his grace and love, and that we are called to be open to those moments and to welcome him into our lives.

Our first reading is from the prophet Jeremiah. His ministry took place in very difficult times.  This short reading is a powerful expression of hope, God is going to provide a new leader from the line of David, and this leader is going to bring in a kingdom of justice and righteousness. As Christians, we immediately think of our Lord and his Kingdom.

Our epistle is from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. This reading gives us some hints of the key things we should be thinking about as we prepare for our Lord to come into our lives on a deeper level. Paul loves these people. He founded this community of faith and he has been trying to get back to see them, but that has not happened, This is his greatest hope—to visit them. Meanwhile, he has been praying for them and rooting for them.

Paul prays that God will let him visit these beloved people. Secondly, he prays that God will increase their love for each other and for everyone. Thirdly, Paul prays that God will “strengthen [their] hearts in holiness.” Paul’s love for these wonderful people leaps out of the page. Points two and three are good prayers for us as well. May God increase our love for each other and for all people. May God strengthen us in holiness. In other words, may God help us to become more and more like Christ.

This past week, on November 25, we celebrated James Otis Sargent Huntington, the founder of the Order of the Holy Cross, the first indigenous American monastic order for men. The order began in New York, then moved to Maryland and then, in 1902 moved to West Park, New York, on the shores of the Hudson River, the location of their mother house. Huntington, who spent many years ministering to poor immigrants on the Lower East Side of New York, wrote, “Holiness is the brightness of divine love, and love is never idle; it must accomplish great things.”

Our gospel reading for today is another example of apocalyptic literature, like the Book of Revelation. “Apocalypse” means “revelation.”  Usually apocalyptic writings describe how God is going to come and conquer all evil and set up a kingdom of peace and harmony. In all three lectionary years, the gospels for the first Sunday in Advent are apocalyptic writings. In year C we have Luke, in year A, Matthew, and in year B, Mark.

The coming of our Lord is a cosmic event. There is distress among nations. There are earthquakes and tsunamis. There is total upheaval. We could very well look at our own time and say to ourselves, “Well, all the signs of the apocalypse are going on right now.” There are many books and films that dwell on that theme. The “left behind” books are one example, and there are many others.

But those examples are not scriptural. They are not in harmony with Christian teachings, and they are not where Jesus is calling us to put our attention and our energy.

Every age has had many signs of upheaval. We certainly have distress between nations. We have wars and rumors of wars. We have many signs of upheaval. We must call upon God for wisdom and guidance in dealing with the many issues that face us and our world.

Whenever he talks about the turmoil of his return, Jesus tells us not to use up our time and energy trying to figure out when he will come back to us. He also tells us not to consume our lives in fear.

In today’s gospel, our Lord tells us not to waste our time getting drunk and not to let ourselves be weighed down by the worries of this life. Whenever he talks about this topic, he tells us to be prepared. He calls us to be ready to welcome him.

Our Lord says, “Stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

As we observe our world, we can see a huge chasm between the way God wants the world to be and the way it is. We can understand what an upheaval it will take in order for our Lord to restore the creation to the way he envisioned it to be. That is what the powerful and sometimes scary imagery of apocalyptic literature is about. War will cease. Everyone will have enough to eat and drink. Everyone will have a place to live and clothing to keep them warm and decent medical care and useful work to do. Everything in the creation will be for building up and not for destroying. Everything will be about love and not hate.

As we look back to his birth in a little out of the way place ruled by a an efficient and ruthless empire; as we look ahead to his coming to bring in his shalom; let us also be alert to those moments when his loving, strengthening, and transforming presence breaks into the moments of our lives, and let us do whatever we can to help him build his shalom.  Amen.

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