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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:…

Ash Wednesday    February 14, 2018

Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 103:8-14
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Here we are, on Ash Wednesday in the year 2018. Today, we will receive ashes on our foreheads which will remind us that we are frail human beings, and we need God’s help. We are dust, and to dust we shall return.These ashes are made from the palms with which we welcomed our Lord at the beginning of Holy Week.

We are here because we are about to begin another Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, a time to deepen our relationship with God, a time to confess our sins, ask for God’s healing and grace, and get back on track so that we can follow Jesus as faithfully as possible.

Our reading from Isaiah comes from the time when the exiles had returned to Jerusalem. They were trying to rebuild the temple, their homes, and their lives, and they were becoming more and more discouraged.  They were beginning to argue with each other instead of working together. Their worship was reflecting this situation. They were going through the motions but not opening their lives to God. They were forgetting that love of God means that we also love our neighbor, and they were even oppressing their workers.

In this passage, God is calling them and us to worship with sincerity and faith and to trust in God’s response to true worship. As we do our work of self-examination this Lent and as we discover the ways in which we need to grow, God will help us with God’s grace. God does answer prayers. In this passage, God is also calling us to remember  that we engage in prayer and fasting and self-examination not only to grow in our love for God, but also to enable us to reach out in love to others.

In our passage from Isaiah, God calls us to “loose the bonds of injustice, …to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke, to share our bread with the hungry,” to give shelter to the homeless and clothing to those who have none. As we accept God’s love and extend that love to others, we are all transformed in the process. As Isaiah says, “[our] light shall rise in the darkness.”

Jesus talks about this in the gospel. Our spiritual discipline is between us and God. It is not a matter for outward show. As we pray, and as we try to increase our giving to others, and as we ask God’s help in dealing with the sins and flaws that keep getting in our way, God’s light and love will fill us more and more.

Lent comes from the middle English word “lente” meaning “springtime.” Lent is a time of growth. Yes, we fast. We simplify our lives. We give up something as a form of self-denial. We give alms in order to help those who need our help. We increase our prayer time if we can in order to spend more time with God and seek God’s direction. All of this helps us grow stronger in the faith so that we can share God’s love and healing more and more.

In our epistle for today, Paul calls us to “be reconciled to God.” Perhaps the most wonderful part of Lent or any time of penitence and self-examination is that such a season gives us the opportunity to grow even closer to God. As we simplify our schedules and our diet, and as we add more prayer time or whatever we feel God is asking us to do, the spiritual light in our lives grows just as surely as the light is increasing with the approach of spring. We are walking the way of the cross, and that way always leads to lightness and newness of life.

As a part of our spiritual life, the Church offers the sacrament of Reconciliation in which we can make our confession to a priest and receive God’s absolution. Lent is also a good time to seek spiritual guidance. If you would like to explore these, please let me know.

May our loving God be with us all as we make our Lenten journey. Amen.

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