• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion April 2, 2023 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 April 9, 2023 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 April 16, 2023 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 29B November 25, 2018 Christ the King

2 Samuel 23:1-7
Psalm 132:1-13, (14-19)
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

Today, the last Sunday in the season of Pentecost, we celebrate Christ the King. Christ is the One we are following. Christ is the King of our lives.

In our opening reading from the Second Book of Samuel, we reflect on the great earthly king of God’s people, David. He was the youngest of the sons of Jesse, and, when Samuel was called to anoint a new king, David was the last of Jesse’s sons to appear before Samuel. The family had to call him in from taking care of the sheep.

David was deeply loved by the people. With great courage, skill with the sling, and most especially, profound faith, he felled the giant Goliath and saved his people from slavery to the Philistines.

But he was not perfect. Far from it. When he ordered that Uriah the Hittite be sent to the front lines to die in battle so that he could take Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba as his wife, David hit the moral nadir of his life. Yet, when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he was able to admit that, yes, he had done this horrible thing, and he was truly sorry.

In our reading today, the king is described in these words,”One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.” A good ruler is a person of light and brings the light of God to bear on every situation. A good ruler is one whose words and actions are inspired by the Spirit of God. Each of us can think of kings or presidents or other leaders who fit this description, and we can be thankful for such people.

Our reading from the Book of Revelation is a song of praise to our king, and it is a vision of heaven, where the saints and angels gather in peace and joy to sing praises to our Lord. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is eternal, and his love is eternal and unchanging. This is a great comfort in times like ours, when we see so much that is the opposite of our Lord’s kingdom of compassion and peace.

It is helpful, I think to remember that Revelation was written to Christians who were living under oppression from the Roman Empire. For followers of Jesus who could be killed at any time at the whim of an emperor, this book, written in code, was a beacon of hope. The imagery which some people interpret as describing Satan or the Devil, is actually describing the Roman Empire. Our Lord triumphs over all forms of oppression and misuse of power, and that knowledge inspires us as we work to create justice in our own world.

In our gospel, we are with our King as he faces the tyranny of the Roman Empire and of the religious leaders of his time. The passage is full of paradox and many layers of meaning. Pilate asks whether Jesus is King of the Jews. but he is asking the question from a worldly point of view.

Our Lord replies that his kingdom is not of this world. How true that is. In his kingdom the last are first and the first are last. Singer and songwriter Holly Near has a song called “The Meek Are Getting Ready.” She sings about those at the margins “coasting up on empty” and we can envision our King welcoming and embracing the folks he called “the least of these, my brothers and sisters.”

At the end of this reading, Jesus says, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” As we meditate on this powerful statement, we ask ourselves, what does he mean by saying “Everyone who belongs to the truth”? Is he talking about a set of facts? Is he talking about a belief system? Is he talking about truth as a set of logical propositions? What does it mean to “belong to the truth”?

Earlier in John’s gospel, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” Even earlier than that, back in chapter ten, he tells us that he is the good shepherd. He says, “i know my sheep, and my sheep know me.” And he tells us that, when the sheep hear the voice of the good shepherd, they follow that shepherd.

So, Jesus is the truth. His attitude, his way of doing things, his teaching, is our truth. That’s what he means by the concept of belonging to the truth. We belong to him in the sense that he is our good shepherd and we are following him.

Jesus tells Pilate and us, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” We could paraphrase that by saying that every one who belongs to our Lord listens to his voice and follows where he leads. His life, his ministry here on earth, and his love for us, all of that is the truth that we follow.

This is the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, a time to give thanks and share good food and lots of love with family and friends.

And on this Christ the King Sunday, we can be very thankful for our King, our Good Shepherd. He is our living, guiding truth, and we belong to him.

May we always listen for his voice.   Amen.


Pentecost 26  Proper 28B November 18, 2018

1 Samuel 1:4-20
1 Samuel 2:1-8  Hannah’s Song
Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18)19-25
Mark 13:1-8

One theme for today’s readings might be beginnings and endings. God creates new beginnings.

In our first reading, we meet Hannah, one of the  great heroines of the faith. She lived in an age when women were judged on their ability to produce large numbers of children, and she felt terrible about the fact that she couldn’t even give birth to one child. Her husband, Elkanah, loved her very much and tried to console her about this.

When they went to the temple to worship, Hannah asked God for help with this problem. Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk, and she had to reassure him that wasn’t the case. Eli realized that he had been mistaken, gave Hannah a blessing, and asked God to grant Hannah’s request. She promised that, if God gave her a son, she would offer that son in God’s service. She and Elkanah went home, made love, and nine months later, one of God’s great priests and prophets, Samuel, was born. Hannah’s Song, which we read today as our psalm, is a wonderful song of praise and thanksgiving which bears many similarities to the Song of Mary, the Magnificat.

In our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer tells us that the animal sacrifices offered in the temple “can never take away sins.” By his offering of himself, our Lord brings us very close to God and to God’s love. In that love, we are called to gather together, strengthen each other’s faith, and encourage one another on the journey. 

In our gospel, Jesus and his followers are coming out of the temple in Jerusalem.  One of the disciples is commenting on how large and impressive the temple is, and indeed it was huge. Jesus tells them the temple will be destroyed, and indeed it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.  

Later on, Jesus and the disciples are sitting on the Mount of Olives, opposite the temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew ask him privately when this destruction will take place and what the signs will be that this is going to happen.  

Jesus answers, “Beware that no one leads you astray.”  He tells them and us that people will actually come and pretend to be Jesus, or say that they come in his name. He tells us that when we hear of wars and rumors of wars, when we see or hear of conflict, we should not be alarmed. We should stay grounded in him and in our faith.  And he says that all of this is part of the birth pangs of his kingdom, his shalom.

Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “I think that our Lord is not so much describing any one particular time in history, as offering his people in any age an approach, an attitude, for living through great upheaval and change. Ours is such a time. Our lord is saying that we must see in the turmoil the possibility that God is bringing new realities to birth.” (O’Driscoll, The Word Among Us Year B, Vol, 3, p. 157.)

The kingdom of God is growing even now. We can see many signs of upheaval in our world, and our Lord is reminding us that, as his shalom grows, there will be turmoil, but we should always go out into the world, look for the places where God is at work, and do all we can to support that work. Wherever the fruits of the Spirit are present-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, wherever God’s love and compassion are being shared, God’s shalom is growing.

Hannah’s song is full of praise and thanksgiving to God, and this is a season of thanksgiving and praise for us as well.

This is the month when we make our outreach contributions to groups who are sharing God’s caring and compassion. These include Martha’s Kitchen, Samaritan House, Abenaki CIrcle of Courage, Sheldon Methodist Church Food Shelf, Rock Point School, Oglala Lakota College, and Brookhaven Treatment Center.

During this month of thanksgiving, we also give our contributions to the United Thank Offering, and we will be doing this for the next two Sundays. The  Church Women’s Auxiliary evolved into the United Thank Offering, and thus we continue all kinds of ministries both in the United States and all over the world. As you know, the Women’s Auxiliary of Grace Church had a very strong ministry.

Finally, at this time of year, we prayerfully make our pledges  for the following year. We make these pledges in gratitude for God’s love and care for us, for our families, and for all people.  We will never be able to grasp the depth and breadth of God’s love. It is beyond our imagining, but we can sense it. We can sense God’s loving presence every moment of our lives and God’s guidance as we take each step of our journey. We will have the pledge cards out on the table next Sunday, and I would ask that you try to make your pledge by December 9.

Thanksgiving is coming up this Thursday, and we have so much for which to be thankful—family, friends, many blessings, this beautiful place in which we live, and, most of all, our loving God who has come to be one of us, our God who is leading and guiding us, our God who is bringing new things to birth.  Amen.

All Saints’ Sunday

Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11: 32-44

Today, we celebrate All Saints’ Sunday. The feast of All Saints happens on November 1, but we are, as the Church says, translating that feast to today. so that we can reflect on the meaning of this wonderful day in the Church calendar and carry that forth into our lives.

In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes a feast which God makes for all people. God will swallow up death forever and will wipe the tears from all faces. The whole human family is filled with joy. God has made us whole. There is nothing to fear.

In our reading from the Book of Revelation, the same theme is repeated, God will wipe every tear from our eyes. As John Donne said, “Death has no more dominion.” Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, is making all things new.

In our gospel for today, we read once again the powerful story of the raising of Lazarus. Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus were among Jesus’ closest friends, They lived a short distance outside of Jerusalem, and our Lord would go to their home and stay with them and share meals and discussion and prayer with these very close friends.

Jesus is so deeply moved at the death of Lazarus that he cries in front of the people gathered. This is a good example for us. There are times to grieve, and tears are the welling up of those deep feelings. Tears are a healing gift, a way to cope with emotions that are deep and powerful.

Both Mary and members of the crowd tell Jesus that he could have prevented this death. The truth is that Jesus cannot save us from death and suffering. We live in a fallen creation. The world is not operating as God would have it work. But he can free us from every bond. He can give us new life, life on an entirely different plane—richer, more full of light, more full of love.

They open the tomb, and there is a stench. Lazarus is really dead. But Jesus calls to him, and Lazarus stumbles out into the light. And then Jesus tells them to unbind him and let him go. I translate that to myself as Jesus’ command to set us free from whatever may imprison us.

The feast of all Saints reminds us that we are part of a great cloud of witnesses, faithful followers of Jesus who have gone before us, those who are here now, and those who will follow us. We are not alone. We are part of a huge community of faith, the Body of Christ, the Church.  As our Presiding Bishop would say, we are members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

And today we also pray that, together with all the rest of that great cloud of witnesses, we “might rejoice in their fellowship, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that never fades away.” Living the Christian in a secular age is not easy. We can certainly use every ounce of endurance that God can give us.

As we look at the world around us, we are still reeling from the terrible events of recent days. There have been several different acts of violence. As people of faith, we are especially horrified by the fact that eleven of our Jewish brothers and sisters were killed while they were in their sanctuary, which they saw as a place of safety, worshiping God.

Joyce Feinberg, 75, a research specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, Richard Gottfried, 65, a dentist, Rose Mallinger, 97, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, a primary care physician, Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, two brothers, Daniel Stein, 71, Bernice and Sylvan Stein, Bernice was 84, Sylvan 86. Irving Younger, 69, and Melvin Wax, 88, a former accountant. Each of these people was a loving member, not only of the Tree of Life synagogue, but also of the Squirrel Hill community.

Messages of love and support have come to the Tree of Life synagogue from all over the world. A neighboring Muslim community has already sent generous contributions of money and help, and stands ready to do anything needed. The Rabbi says that the community will rebuild the sanctuary.

Remember how shocked we were when a young man sat in a Bible study at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston South Carolina and then killed nine members of that group. Once again, we gather together to remember those who have died, their families and friends.

This is yet another terrible tragedy, and I ask you to keep the people of the Tree of Life synagogue in your prayers.

Even in the midst of tragedy, our readings today remind us that we are a people of faith. We are a people of joy. We are a people of hope. We are a people of endurance. Our Lord is a God of compassion who brings light and life and love to all people. That is the One we are following, as saints have followed him for over two thousand years.

May we follow him in faith, and may we continue to share his love.