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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 4 Proper 6C RCL June 12, 2016

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14). 15-21a
Psalm 5:1-8
Galatians 2:15-21
Luke 7:36-8:3

Our opening reading tells one of the most disgraceful stories in the Bible. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel do not worship God. They worship the fertility god Baal. They are completely corrupt, accumulating money and power and possessions beyond any reasonable measure, and doing it at the expense of the peasants who do not even have the necessities of life.

King Ahab decides that he wants to own the vineyard of Naboth.  He wants to turn this priceless vineyard into a vegetable garden. That is an insulting thought. This is one of the finest vineyards in Jezreel, an area known for its excellent vineyards.  To take this land and turn it into a vegetable garden would be an affront to Naboth and his family and an example of terrible stewardship. Furthermore, scholars tell us that Leviticus prohibits selling family land to anyone outside the family, so now Ahab is actually asking Naboth to break the law. Naboth refuses to sell the vineyard.

Aha goes home and has a major pout. Naboth will not do Ahab’s will. Naboth is trying to do God’s will. But Ahab is so far beyond any morality or consideration for others that he lies down on his bed and won’t eat. The king is behaving like a two year of having a tantrum.

Jezebel rushes in to fix this situation. Using all the power of the monarchy, she sends a letter with instructions to have two scoundrels bring charges against Naboth so that he can be killed. Naboth is an honest and respected man, but the men of the city and the elders and the nobles fall right in line. Any ethical principles they may have had fly right out of the window. They join in this plot, which is such a misuse of power by those who are supposed to be leading and serving the people, and Naboth is killed.

Jezebel tells Ahab that he can now take possession of the vineyard, so Ahab sets out for Jezreel. And now, poor Elijah, the last prophet of God in Israel, has the unfortunate task of telling Ahab that his violent, selfish, unlawful and unethical behavior is the exact opposite of what God would be calling him to do and that such behavior has dire consequences.

King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are people who have lost any concept of a moral compass. They use their power to take what they want and they have no regard for their subjects. This is not what God expects of people in leadership positions.

In our gospel, Jesus is invited to eat with a Pharisee named Simon. Simon is at the top of the social ladder. He is supposedly a shining example of one who follows the law. Yet, when a woman, who is labeled, a “sinner,” comes in and anoints the feet of Jesus, Simon begins to question Jesus. If Jesus were truly a prophet, Simon thinks to himself, he would realize that this woman is beyond the pale, unacceptable, not someone we would associate with. But here is Jesus, letting her anoint his feet and kiss his feet and cry and dry his feet with her hair. So I am concluding, thinks Simon, that Jesus is not a prophet after all. I’ll have to remember never to invite him again; he is just not the genuine article.

Jesus senses exactly what Simon is thinking, and he tries to explain. I think Jesus has met this woman before, and she has shared some things, and he has healed her. When we come to a point in our lives where we realize how broken we are and how much we need help, and how much we need healing, not only physical healing bur spiritual healing, and we turn to God, and God gathers us in to God’s loving arms, and we tell God what is going on with us, and, of course God already knows but it is good for us to lay it out in so many words, and God forgives us and gives us words of wisdom and encouragement and touches us deep in our heart and soul and fills us with strength and wholeness and sets us on a new path with a new life, we are grateful beyond measure, and we just want to go to God and say, “Thank you, God, for your love, and I love you back with my whole heart.” That’s what this woman is doing.

But Simon will never understand this because Simon has no sense of his brokenness or his sin, because Simon feels he is as near to perfection as anyone could possibly be, thank you very much. He follows the letter of the law and that’s it. Simon does not need God. He does not understand God’s love and forgiveness because he has never acknowledged his need for forgiveness.

We are here because we do understand this. We have gone through times when we would not have made it through without God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and our friends in the Body of Christ. This is what St. Paul is talking about when he writes, I have been crucified in Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Christ has come into our lives, and he is living in us, and for that, we are so grateful that it is difficult to find words to express that gratitude. Thank God that we have hymns and psalms and music to try to say thank you to God.

Being reserved Vermonters, we probably would not kneel at Jesus’ feet and anoint his feet with oil and dry his feet with our hair. We would probably also be tongue-tied if we happened to meet Jesus at a dinner. But we can understand why she did it.

Our Lord has done so much for us, and even now he is with us and leads us like a Good Shepherd. We are thankful for all his gifts. He sets a table before us in the presence of those who trouble us. He anoints our heads with oil. Our cup runs over with blessings.

The attitude of gratitude is a powerful thing. May we thank God this day and every day for all the gifts God has bestowed on us, most especially, the gifts of love, grace, healing, and forgiveness. Amen.

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