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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 14 Proper 16C RCL August 21, 2016

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

Our reading from the book of Jeremiah is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, and I hope it might be one of yours, too. God is calling this young man—scholars tell us he was about eighteen—to a prophetic ministry that was going to be extraordinarily difficult. At various times, Jeremiah would be put in prison, thrown into a cistern, which, fortunately, had no water in it, and finally exiled to Egypt when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem.

Even though Jeremiah did not know exactly what was going to happen, he did know that the ministry of a prophet is never easy. In all sincerity, he told God that he was simply too young to accept such a vocation.

God told Jeremiah two very important things, and God is also telling us these same things. First, God has known each of us forever. God has loved each of us forever. Before the galaxies leaped into being God had each of us in mind, and each of us was the apple of God’s eye. God loves you and has loved you since before time began.

Secondly, God told Jeremiah that God would put God’s words in Jeremiah’s mouth, and God tells us that God will do whatever is needed so that we can do what God calls us to do. God will put God’s words in our mouth when we can find no words to speak. God will give us the strength and compassion to sit with someone who has just lost a child. God will give us the love and power to comfort someone who has a terminal illness. God will give us whatever we need to show God’s love and caring to our brothers and sisters on this beautiful blue/green earth. God will give us the will and the way to preserve this beautiful planet, this jewel of the universe which God has given us to tend. God loves us and will give us the gifts we need to carry out our ministries, individual and corporate.

In our epistle from the Letter to the Hebrews, we trace the history of our understanding of God. Long ago, even at the time of the Exodus, a little over three thousand years ago, God was scary. If you went up the mountain and you saw the face of God, you would die. People were deeply aware of the raw, huge power of God.

Over time, as God told people like Jeremiah that God had known them even before they were in the womb and that God cared about them and would help them, our human view of God began to change.

But we still didn’t really get it. So, finally, God came among us. He came just the way we did, as a little baby. He didn’t come as one of the rich and famous. He came to this wonderful couple, Mary and Joseph, faithful good people who lived in a little out of the way place called Galilee, in a little town called Nazareth. Joseph was a carpenter, and you can’t do better than that. He wasn’t a hedge fund manager or  a king or a general, but he was a descendant of the greatest king Israel ever had.

Everything Jesus did breathed forth God’s love. When you were with him, you  knew that God’s spirit was within you, and he would tell you that very thing. “The Holy Spirit is within you,” he would say. In the presence of Jesus, people found new hope, new strength. Jesus was God walking the face of the earth, and Jesus is risen and with us this very moment and every moment.

And so we come to our gospel for today. Jesus is teaching in the synagogues on the sabbath. He sees a woman who has been crippled for eighteen years. She is bent over and she is unable to stand up straight.

She does not have to ask Jesus to help her. He notices her. He calls her over. He does not ask her any questions. What is wrong? How did you get this ailment? Do you follow the law of Moses? Do you say your prayers every day?

He does not do any of that. There is no examination. There is no test to pass. He simply says, “Woman, you are free from your ailment.”

We should remember that this woman is considered unclean on two counts. First, she is a woman, and second, she is sick. Rabbis were not supposed to associate with women, and being around sick people could make you unclean, too. But Jesus is not focusing on the law, which is so preoccupied with keeping ritually clean.

God wants all of us to be whole and healthy, and Jesus is here to make sure that we understand that.

The woman stands up straight for the first time in eighteen years and begins praising God.

The leader of the synagogue is upset because Jesus has cured on the sabbath. Here, we need to be careful. We do not want to be anti-Semitic. If we look at ourselves as the Church, we can recall many times when we became quite legalistic. Think of the furor over the “new” prayer book (1979), the passing of the Peace, the “new” hymnal (1982), the ordination of women, and I could go on and on.

Jesus does the classic argument from the lesser to the greater. We feed and water our oxen and our donkeys and our cows and horses and chickens on the sabbath. Don’t you realize that God wants us to take care of our brother and sister humans as well?

Yes, the sabbath is important. We need time to rest and refresh our bodies and spirits. We need time to worship and to thank God for God’s many blessings to us. And Jesus has come to free us and to heal us. Making people whole is a good thing to do at any time or season.

What are our readings telling us today? First, God has loved each of us forever. Second, God gives us what we need to do our ministries. Third, Jesus wants us to join him in healing and freeing our brothers and sisters. Grace Church has been joining Christ in his ministry of healing and freeing people for two hundred years. May God richly bless you as you go out into the world this week to share God’s love and power and healing and compassion. Amen.

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