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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 9 Proper 11B RCL July 22, 2019

2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Psalm 89:20-37
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

In our opening reading, King David is now settled in his house, and the land is at peace. David wants to build a house for the Lord, a place for the ark of the covenant. He consults the prophet Nathan, and Nathan thinks this is a good idea. After all, isn’t it a wonderful thing to design and construct a beautiful building to be a special place where God is present, a place where we can pray and give praise to God?

But God speaks to Nathan and says that it is not the time for David to do this. Indeed, King Solomon, David’s wise son, will build the great temple in Jerusalem.

Sometimes we want to do a good and wonderful thing, but it is not God’s will for us to do this. We consult trusted advisors, as David did. But then God lets us know that this simply is not the time, or this particular thing is not something God has called us to do.

As we think about our epistle for today, we remember that Paul, or his disciple, is writing to Gentile Christians in Asia Minor, what we now call Turkey. In the early Church, perhaps the greatest controversy was the debate concerning the issue of Gentiles coming into the new faith.

In the beginning, Peter felt that Gentiles must be circumcised and follow the Jewish law, including the dietary laws. Then he had his vision of all the foods coming down from heaven, including food forbidden by the law, and God telling him to eat these foods. He then realized that all people, including Gentiles, were called to full membership in the Church. This issue was finally resolved at the Council of Jerusalem.

Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles. Although he was a devout Pharisee, he quickly realized that Christ had fulfilled and transcended the law. Gentiles joining the new faith did not need to be circumcised or follow the law to the letter, but we are all called to follow the spirit of the law.

Paul realized that, while this controversy was going on, Gentiles coming into the Church felt like second-class citizens. Now he is making it abundantly clear that Christ has made all of us one in him. Paul says, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near….” Paul tells us that Christ has dissolved all barriers between us.

We are still working out the implications of this. Although our Lord has broken through all barriers, it is taking us much time and struggle to realize that all human beings are full members of the Body of Christ.

In our gospel for today, the apostles return from their missionary journey and tell Jesus about all the wonderful things that have happened. They go off to a quiet place to be with God and each other in prayer and peace. Then they get back into the boat, cross the Sea of Galilee, and go ashore only to find a huge crowd waiting for them. The designers of the lectionary want to emphasize the huge need the people had for healing and hope.

Verses 35 through 52 are omitted from this reading. They tell us about the feeding of the five thousand.

Then Jesus and his disciples cross the Lake again and go ashore only to find that people are rushing to bring their loved ones on mats so that Jesus can heal them. This gospel reading eloquently describes the hunger people had for Jesus and the deep need they felt for his healing. Today, people still need Jesus’ healing.

As Jesus goes ashore for the first time in our gospel for today, the text says “   He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

We do not have Jesus present with us in person to teach us many things. In fact, we are his risen body called to teach and heal on his behalf. Sometimes we may wish he were here so that we could turn to him and ask him questions. Indeed, he is here among us now.

People in our world and in our neighborhood may well feel like sheep without a shepherd, and our Lord is calling us to minister to these people. Even we may feel like sheep without a shepherd. On an ecclesiastical, earthly level, we do have a shepherd, and that is our Bishop. Our ultimate shepherd is Jesus.

This past Tuesday, Bishop Tom and I visited Nat and Nini. We were discussing what we can do to make the world a better place. Bishop Tom remarked that we live in a world where many people do not have enough to eat, and that, until everyone does have enough food, feeding people is a very high priority. He commended the ministry of the Sheldon Food Shelf. Thank you all for your support of the food shelf, and many other ministries, and for all the ways in which you share Christ’s love and care with others every day of your lives.

As we discussed the challenges that face the Church, Bishop Tom said that here in Vermont, and this is a paraphrase, there are two things that stand out to him. Vermont is a place where the Church has great vitality, and he pointed to Grace as an example of that. At the same time, here in the Church in Vermont, there is a certain fragility, and  he said that we need to be careful not to let the sense of fragility divert us from the vitality.

One of my spiritual guides, Sister Claire Boissy of the Sisters of Mercy, would often say, “Go where the life is.” A young leader in our Church recently said, “We don’t have to invent the wheel; we have the wheel.” The scriptures, sacraments, and teaching of the Church are the wheel. Christ is alive among us and in us. Grace is a place of life.

Let us focus on the vitality and where that leads us with the help of the Spirit. Let us also keep a careful eye on the fragility. We can be grateful that Grace has been a good steward of its building and financial gifts. And then again, let us focus on the vitality. That is where the life is, and Christ is in our midst.  Amen.

 

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