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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 5 Proper 7 RCL June 19, 2016

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15A
Psalm 42 and 43
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

in our opening reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, We go back to the point in Elijah’s story when he has just asked God to come down and light the sacrifice on fire, and God has answered. Elijah has also killed all 450 prophets of Baal. In answer to these actions, Queen Jezebel has sent a message that she will kill Elijah.

Elijah runs as far as he can and still remain in the land of Jahweh. He goes to Beersheeba, the southernmost place in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He leaves his servant and goes into the wilderness. And he asks God to let him die. He is exhausted, He has been battling the enemies of God for a long, long time. He lies down and sleeps.

When Elijah wakes up, God has sent an angel to give him food. He eats and rests again. Then the angel wakes him up and tells him to eat more. He will be going on a long journey. He gets up, eats and drinks, and heads out on a journey of forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb, also called Mount Sinai, the place where Moses met God, the place where he, Elijah, will also meet God.

Elijah goes into a cave, but God finds him there and asks him, “hat are you doing here?” And Elijah tries to present his case. He has been working hard for God, in spite of the fact that everyone else has abandoned God, and now Jezebel is going to kill him.

God tells Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, because the Lord is about to pass by.  A great wind comes, then an earthquake, and then fire. But God is not in any of these powerful and dramatic things.

God speaks to Elijah in what the King James translation describes as
“a still, small voice.” James D. Newsome says this translation is close, but the literal translation is “a thin whisper.” After all the noise and drama of wind, earthquake, and fire comes the quiet voice of God.

The tired and dejected Elijah has an encounter with God, and that meeting with God  energizes Elijah to go back to the battle. Elijah is now carrying on the ministry begun with Moses. Elijah’s mission is to free God’s people from the tyranny of Ahab and Jezebel.

So often we expect our encounters with God to be dramatic. Most of the time, God speaks to us in a still small voice, or a thin whisper, quietly, so quietly that we may not hear God if we are not listening. Elijah was certainly listening.

In our gospel for today, Jesus is traveling to the country of the Gerasenes. Jesus is in Gentile territory.  He has gone beyond the usual bounds of his mission. He meets a man who for a long time has worn no clothes, a man who lives in the tombs. Jesus does not turn away from this man. Jesus heals him. The demons go into a herd of pigs. The herd runs down the bank into the lake and is drowned. The swineherds go into the town and tell what Jesus has done. Then everyone comes out and they see this man sitting at the feet of Jesus in the posture of a disciple. He is fully clothed and of sound mind. All the people of that area ask Jesus to leave them. They are afraid. One reason for their fear is that they have just lost a herd of pigs, an economic hardship. Jesus has set a man free from illness, but this action has an effect on the local economy. The presence of Jesus in our lives often calls us to reorganize our priorities.

The man who has been healed has become a disciple. He asks if he can come with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go and proclaim in his own area the good news of what God has done.

Our reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is one of the most powerful portions of Holy Scripture. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, we have all been clothed in Christ. We are all children of God. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Jesus breaks down all barriers—race, religion, class, socioeconomic status, gender, all barriers. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

The story of Elijah is also our story. Sometimes it is difficult to try to do God’s will. We can get discouraged. We can feel like giving up. But God is always there to nourish us and renew our spirits. Strengthened by his encounter with God, Elijah goes on to become as great a leader as Moses.

This week, we have been dealing with a tragedy. A young man, who was a perpetrator of unreported domestic violence, who had outbursts of anger which alarmed co-workers, who was described by his ex-wife as mentally ill, murdered forty-nine people.

Imam Hassan Islam, the leader of the Islamic Society of Vermont, was the first religious leader to reach out to the Vermont Pride Center. The Senior Imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Imam Muhammad Musri, spoke on Sunday morning, asking people of all faiths to pray for the victims and families and to help in any way that they could.

I ask that we continue to pray for those who have been injured and those who have died, for their families, and for those who are ministering to the many folks whose lives have been touched by this event.

I also ask that we pray for God’s guidance in this matter, knowing that God will probably come to us as a still, small voice, a thin whisper. May we listen very carefully for that voice.

May we, as individuals and as a nation, seek and do God’s will.  Amen.

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