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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:…

Easter 2A RCL April 23, 2017

Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Psalm 16
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31

On most of the Sundays of the Church year, our first reading is taken from the Hebrew scriptures, also called the Old Testament. During the Great Fifty Days of Easter, our first reading comes from the Greek scriptures, or New Testament. This helps us to focus on the fact that we are an Easter people.

Our opening lesson takes place on the Day of Pentecost. Just prior to our reading from today, the Holy Spirit has filled the disciples with the gift of being able to speak the languages of the known world at that time. All the people who have come for the feast of Pentecost are able to hear the Good News in their native languages.

Our reading for today is Peter’s sermon preached to the people who had just experienced this amazing event. They were wondering what all of this could mean. Peter links the ministry of Jesus to the reign of  the great King David, the most beloved and revered king of the Jewish people. That is to say, Peter does what any good preacher does. He presents his message in a context  that the people will understand. He ends with some words which sum up the  Good News, “This Jesus God raised up, and of this we are all witnesses.”

Our epistle comes much later in Peter’s life. Some scholars think that Peter dictated this letter to Silvanus just before he died in Rome. The letter is addressed to Christians who are suffering persecution in Asia Minor, what we would now call Turkey. The Church has grown. There are now congregations all around the Mediterranean Sea. But the Church is being persecuted because it believes in Jesus and refuses to worship earthly rulers. Answering Jesus’ call to be peacemakers, the early Christians refused to fight in the military. They also shared all things in common. For these and other reasons, the Church was  considered by those in power to be subversive.

Peter once again focuses on the core of our belief in a beautiful hymn of praise. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

What a gift, the wondrous gift of new life in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every year, our gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter is this inspiring and moving passage from the Gospel of John. Of our three readings, this is historically the earliest one.

It is the evening of the first Easter. Mary has gone to the tomb and found it empty. She has seen the risen Lord and has told the others. The first thing to keep clearly in mind is that they are full of fear. They are hiding behind locked doors for fear of the authorities. The powers that be were quick to clamp down on any insurgent movements. They had already killed Jesus. What would they do now?

Jesus comes right through the walls of their fear. He brings peace, not only peace in the usual sense, but also his vision of shalom, a peace that begins in our hearts and lives and spreads over the whole wide earth, a harmony that not only brings the end of war but unites all people and the whole creation in a way that brings well being to everyone. And our Lord confers on his followers, including us, the ministry of reconciliation.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that to reconcile is to “restore to friendship or harmony.” (p. 984). Because of their encounters with the risen Christ and the power of his love and healing,  the followers of Jesus were able, with God’s grace, to create communities which lived these values. People were welcomed, no matter what their economic status or education, and they experienced our Lord’s love and healing through the faith and life of the community.

All of this began in that room where the disciples were gathered in fear. That changed when our Lord came to let them know that they had no reason to fear. He called them to go out into the world, go beyond those locked doors, and share his love with everyone they met.

Fear was transformed into faith, and that faith spread the Good News all around the Mediterranean and gave thousands and thousands of people new hope and a new purpose in life.

That is why we are here today. Because that faith means everything to us. It is our beacon in challenging times. We know that the love of God in Christ is the most powerful force in the world. It changes people’s lives. It has changed our lives.

Now, over two thousand years after that first Easter and that first Pentecost, we are called to carry out our Lord’s ministry of reconciliation, to help to build his shalom of peace and harmony.

Grace Church has been doing this for over two hundred years, Thanks be to God.

Gracious God, give us, we pray, the grace to be channels of your peace, your love, your joy, and your healing.  Amen.

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