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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:…

Lent 4B RCL March 11, 2018

Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

In our opening reading today, we are journeying with God’s people. God has given them a great leader, Moses, and Moses has led them out of slavery . Now they are traveling in the wilderness toward the promised land.

They are also complaining. The longer they are away from their slavery in Egypt, the more they complain. They think longingly about the great food they had there, but they forget that they were doing the backbreaking labor of making bricks for the Pharaoh, and the quotas kept going higher and higher. This is so like us humans. God is trying to lead us out of slavery into new life and all we can do is complain.

Of course, the situation gets worse. They hit a point on the journey where there are poisonous snakes. When people are bitten, they die.

The people ask for God’s help, and God instructs Moses to make a little statue of a poisonous snake, put it on a pole, and lift it so that, by looking at the snake, the people can be healed.

In our gospel for today, the lifting of our Lord on the cross is compared with the lifting of that bronze snake which saved the lives of God’s people. Our Lord was also lifted high when he rose from the dead and when he ascended to be God. I love looking at our window which depicts the ascension. God so loved the world that God gave us Jesus. God so loved the world that God came among us. Jesus gave us a new commandment—that we love one another as he has loved us.

This gospel comes after the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus in which Jesus talks with Nicodemus about being born again, not literally, but through the power of the Spirit. We are now in that new life.

Today is Mothering Sunday, a time when the penitential tone of Lent is lightened somewhat. It is also called Laetere Sunday, from the Mass text, “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.” There is a note of joy on this day. In the ancient Church, a rose was sometimes used in the liturgy as a symbol of the coming of spring. Some churches use rose vestments on this day.

In our readings that note of joy is struck mostly in our reading from Ephesians. Paul brilliantly traces our spiritual journey. Once we humans lived  following the “desires of the flesh.” When he speaks of the flesh, Paul means that we lived totally self centered lives. We thought about our own needs, our own wishes, our own plans. There was no place for God in all of this.

But God, in God’s infinite love, as Paul says, “made us alive together with Christ.” Paul tells us that God raised us up with Jesus and in God’s amazing generosity, God shows us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Then comes that passage which we love so much: “For by grace you have been saved by faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God….”

Paul was the first Christian theologian, and he outdoes himself in this passage. He has given us the history of the human race and our own history. We humans were living lives centered on ourselves, and those lives led nowhere. God, in God’s great love, came among us and became our Good Shepherd, leading us to the good pastures and the still waters where we can find peace, and leading us into life that is rooted and grounded in him. He calls us to love and serve others in his name. As we focus on God’s love and the wonderful gift God has given us, we can certainly rejoice.

Gracious God, thank you for your healing, your unfailing love, your grace, and the gift of new life in you.  Amen.

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