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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 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 December 18, 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 December 25, 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:…

Lent 2 Year A March 12, 2017

Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
John 3:1-17

Lent is a time for journeying. After God’s people had been freed from slavery in Egypt, they journeyed for forty years in the wilderness until they finally reached the promised land. After he was baptized, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, accepting and absorbing God’s love, growing closer to God, and, through prayer, coming to a clear understanding of the nature of his mission and ministry.

In our first reading today, we meet one of the great heroes of our faith, Abraham. Abraham had a good life in Ur of the Chaldees. Ur was an ancient city located in Mesopotamia. It is located on the right bank of the Euphrates River 225 miles Southeast of Baghdad and about 9.9 miles from the city of Nasiriyah in Iraq.

Abraham had a wife, a large extended family, flocks and herds and many possessions.What Abraham and Sarah did not have, much to their sorrow, was children. God called Abraham to leave everything and to journey far from his home into a new land. God said that God would make Abraham a blessing. God also said that Abraham and Sarah would have children as numerous as the stars. Abraham accepted God’s call and became a great icon of faith for all of us.

In our gospel for today, we meet someone else who is on a journey. Nicodemus is a leader among his people. He is a person of deep faith. But there is something about Jesus which compels Nicodemus to go and see him. Being a member of the council of the elders, Nicodemus is taking a great risk to go and talk with Jesus because there are some people on the council who think that Jesus is up to no good, and, if they ever found out that Nicodemus had actually visited Jesus, it could cost him his job and maybe his life.

So Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. Nicodemus tells Jesus that he knows Jesus is a teacher who has come from God. He is going to ask Jesus some questions. but, before he can do that, Jesus throws him a mysterious comment. Jesus says that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they have been born from above. What in the world does that mean?

Well, Nicodemus takes it literally. You can’t be born when you have grown old, he reasons. Only babies are born. Being a member of the council of the elders, he is old. Then he becomes even more literal. He thinks Jesus is talking about going back into the womb. Jesus throws him an even more mysterious comment. We can’t enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit.

In our baptisms, we have been born of water and the Spirit. We are no longer of the flesh, that is, on the human level only. We have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have the gift of newnesss of life. We see things, not only on the human level but also on the level of God’s vision of shalom, God’s kingdom of peace and harmony. Life has a whole new meaning for us.

We can see Nicodemus grappling with these new ideas. And then Jesus ends their discussion with the best of the Good News: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

What does this mean for us, especially now in Lent? There is a  wonderful hymn which says, “Love came down at Christmas.” Jesus came to be with us because of love. Jesus is love. God is love.

Into a world controlled by the powerful and ruthless Roman Empire, God came to be with us. God came to be with us to say to us, “Always remember, I love you, and I will be with you. I will be among you always.

And he says, “The journey can be difficult, It can seem impossible at times. Always remember that I am right beside you. Sometimes I will go ahead of you, like the Good Shepherd that I am. I will go ahead to show you the way. Sometimes, when it seems impossible to take another step, I will even carry you. I will always be with you. You are not alone, You are never alone.”

This Lent, we are following our Lord on his way to the cross, that instrument of torture and humiliation. Yes, our Lord died on that cross. Why? Because he loves us.  And because he was trying to show us another way to do things. Not by earthly power, but by the power of the Spirit, the power of love.

In a profound sense, our Lenten journey is a journey begun, continued and ended in God’s love.  As we accept and absorb God’s love, we are changed. We are reborn. We become new people. We look at the world and at people with different eyes, eyes filled with hope and love and compassion.

And that changes everything. It changes us and it transforms the world. God’s love heals and changes us and the world. By virtue of our baptisms, we are a part of this process of transforming the creation.

Love came down at Christmas. Love lives among us. Love has been crucified and has risen from the dead.  Love is with us always. We are never alone. He will walk with us, He will go ahead to show us the way. He will carry us when the going gets too tough. He is transforming us. He is transforming the world. May we follow him.  Amen.