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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:…

Pentecost 24 Proper 26C RCL October 30, 2016

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Psalm 119:137-144
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Luke 19:1-10

Our first reading is from another of the Minor Prophets, Habakkuk. We know very little about this prophet, but, from references in the text, we think that he was writing at the height of Babylonian power, but before the conquering of Jerusalem and the Exile.

Habakkuk could see the disaster that was about to come. Once again, the words of this prophet from twenty-five hundred years ago echo our own feelings. He writes, “Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails.” He is pleading to God to correct these wrongs, but nothing is happening. So he goes to a watch post to stand and wait until God speaks.

And God answers. God tells Habakkuk to write the prophecy in large print so that a runner can see it as he speeds by. God says, “Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.” Things will be set right, and we are called to wait in faith until that time.

In our second reading, Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy are writing to a church that is dealing with persecution. Even in the midst of this challenging time, the faith of the Thessalonians is growing, and the members of the community continue to love one another. Paul says that he and his assistants boast of the Thessalonians because their faith is so strong and steadfast.

And then Paul tells us that keeping the faith in times of trial, and continuing to love and serve others as our Lord called us to do glorifies the Name of Jesus.

This is something that I have noted in the history of Grace Church. In 1853, our ancestors found out that the foundation of the church building was crumbling. At the same time, the iron foundries had gone into decline, the local economy was in trouble, and membership was declining. The Rev. Albert Hopson Bailey was Rector then, and he rallied everyone together. In spite of the bad economy, they rose to the task and constructed a new building.

In more recent years, I can’t tell you how many people, having spent some time visiting here, have commented on the genuine love and caring which they see in this community. They feel that they have encountered a Christian community as it is meant to be. These kinds of things glorify the Name of Christ. Paul, Sylvanus, and Timothy could well have sent a letter to you.

In our gospel, we have the story of Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus. Zaccheus is a tax collector and he is rich. As a tax collector, he is despised because tax collectors worked for the Roman occupiers. They were required to collect a certain amount for the Roman government, but they often collected an additional amount over and above that to line their own pockets. Zaccheus lives in a mansion in a very nice neighborhood, but he has no friends. He is very rich and very much alone.

In spite of all the strikes against him,, Zaccheus is in the middle of the crowd this day because he absolutely must see Jesus. He feels compelled to find out more about Jesus, even though people are sneering at him and directing all their hatred and scorn at him. On top of everything else, Zaccheus is short.

He is not tall enough to see over the crowds, so he runs ahead and climbs a sycamore tree so that he can see Jesus. Jesus arrives at the base of the tree and looks up at Zaccheus. And then Jesus says the most amazing thing. He tells Zaccheus to get down out of that tree because he, Jesus, is going to stay at his house! So Zaccheus clambers down and welcomes Jesus.

When Jesus sends us out two by two, he tells us to stay wherever folks extend hospitality to us. But here, he is choosing to stay in the house of this sinner, this tax collector hated by everyone. The crowd begins to grumble about this. It takes people a long time to realize that Jesus has come to turn the world upside down. Yes, he chooses to stay with sinners and eat with them. And, of course, we are all sinners.

But then Zaccheus says some amazing things to Jesus. He says that he is going to give to the poor half of everything he has. He also says that, if he has defrauded anyone, he will pay them back four times as much. This is very generous restitution.

Jesus has not even asked Zaccheus to share his wealth. Just by having this encounter with Jesus and seeing him in the flesh and sensing the love and healing and forgiveness flowing out of Jesus, Zaccheus sees what he needs to do. He needs to share with others and he needs to make restitution for the harm he has done. And that is exactly what he is going to do.

And Jesus tells those who are complaining that this hated tax collector is also one of us and that he, Jesus, has come to save the lost. We are all sinners. We are all lost in one way or another. And we can all be honest about it and ask our Lord for help.

In our first reading, God assures Habbakuk that God’s justice and mercy will prevail. In our second reading we remember the faith and endurance of the Thessalonians in trying times and we recall the enduring faith of our forbears who, working with God, created and sustained the Grace community. And in our gospel, we remember Zaccheus, the despised tax collector who threw decorum to the winds and climbed a tree to see Jesus. His life was transformed. And ours are being transformed even now as we meet our Lord this morning, and as we follow him day by day.

Amen.

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