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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 February 10, 2016

Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 103:8-14
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6.16-21

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice; to undo the thongs of the yoke; to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” These words which God spoke through the  prophet Isaiah remind us that we are called to help God to free every person from any kind of slavery which binds them.

The people of God in Isaiah’s time were performing the outward rituals of worship, but they were not living the spirit of their faith. Because of this, they were not in harmony with God. They wondered why God was not answering their prayers, but their prayers were not in harmony with God’s vision. God’s vision is that we free our brothers and sisters from oppression and that we take care of each other.

In our gospel, Jesus is giving us a powerful illustration of how to come into God’s presence. The Pharisee is full of narcissistic self-congratulation. He, too, follows every aspect of the Law, but he is so full of himself that there is no room for God. Whereas the tax collector, someone who is hated by all because he collects money for the Roman oppressors, realizes that he is a sinner and that he needs God’s help. His heart and his life are wide open to God;s healing, forgiveness, and grace.

One of the tasks of Lent is to go into God’s presence, take a look at ourselves, and come to a realistic assessment of where we are and who we are. Yes, we are all sinners. We do the things we do not want to do, and we fail to do the things that we want to do and are called by God to do.  We are frail, fallible humans, yet we also know that God’s love and grace are at work in our lives.

Another of our tasks in Lent is to ask God’s help in finding out where we need to grow spiritually, and then ask that God give us the grace to do that growing.

Where do we need to be freed? What aspects of our lives imprison us or bind us? In what ways are we called by God to free others, those who are near and those who are far away?  Recently, we felt called to help to free refugees halfway around the world who are being driven from their homes by unspeakable acts of military aggression.

Now, we are being called to help God to free someone who is very near to us; someone we love; someone who is one of us. Everyone here at Grace has responded to this call from God.

One of us has had to do some very difficult work to see that she is indeed oppressed and in captivity. She has done much of that work and will continue to do that work. The work of seeing that we are imprisoned is the most difficult work we will ever have to do. The resolution to ask God’s help and the help of others in order to get free takes a great deal of courage and grace.

This Lent, we are all responding to God’s call to “break every yoke” and “to let the oppressed go free.”  This is a very special Lent for us because we are actually living this reading from Isaiah. Frail and fallible as we are, broken and imperfect sinners that we are, we are still answering this call because of what our Lord has done for us.

May God bless each of us and all of us. May God’s protection and grace be with us and with all who are helping in this ministry. May we grow closer and closer to God and to each other this Lent, and may God bless us with the fresh green shoots of new growth.  Amen.

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