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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:…

Advent 1C RCL December 2, 2018

Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-9
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Advent is a time when we look back to the first coming of our Lord as a baby and look ahead to his coming again to complete his work of creation. Advent is also the new year’s season of the Church. We move from lectionary year B to year C, and our liturgical color changes from the green of the post-Pentecost season to the purple which befits both penitence and the welcoming of our King.

As we look around our world, we have been seeing all kinds of destructive weather events—forest fires consuming people’s homes and destroying their lives, severe storms, continuing mass shootings, war, famine, refugees seeking asylum, and on and on the list of tragedies goes.

Our very brief reading from the prophet Jeremiah comes from a tragic time as well. Jeremiah is writing from prison. He is under house arrest because he has displeased King Hezekiah. He has been telling the king truths that the king does not want to hear. The Babylonians have leveled Jerusalem. Earlier in the chapter, Jeremiah describes corpses being piled up in houses. It is a terrible time, a time in which it would be easy to lose all hope.

And yet, Jeremiah reminds his people and us of God’s great promise to all of us. A righteous branch will spring up. From an old stump, a new shoot will appear. The kingship of David will be restored. People will live in peace; they will raise crops; business will be carried out with honesty and integrity; people will marry and have children.  The Lord will “execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

As Christians, we see that shoot from the stump of Jesse as our Lord Jesus Christ. In times of darkness and turmoil, we look for his return and the establishment of his shalom of justice, love, and peace.

Our epistle today is from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. Scholars tell us that this is probably the earliest writing in the New Testament. Paul had founded this community of faith and then had been called to a new mission. But he had always wanted to go back to visit these people, whom he loved very much. He sent Timothy to see how they were doing, and Timothy returned to Paul with a glowing account of this loving community which continued to show forth the compassion of Christ even under persecution.

Paul writes, “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?” Paul prays again that God may make it possible for him to visit this beloved community. And then he prays, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he strengthen your hearts in holiness….” That is St. Paul’s prayer for us as well. Love is at the heart of our faith. Paul is praying that we may continue in love for each other and for all people and that God may strengthen our hearts in holiness that we may remain steadfast in our faith. And a key part of our faith is that our Lord will return to set all things right.

Our gospel for today is full of apocalyptic images, “signs among the sun, the moon, and the stars,” “distress among the nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves,” “fear and foreboding.” Every age has its turmoil, and our Lord counsels us not to run to the hills, but to be ready for his coming.

He says, “Stand up, and raise your heads. because your redemption is drawing near.” He tells us to be careful that we are not “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life.”

Jesus calls us to “be alert at all times.”

Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “The great significance of this passage for us lies in the attitude that our Lord calls for. Our Lord is saying something like this—If we truly believe that God is at the heart of human events, then we can experience life with confidence, knowing that all events have ultimate meaning and purpose within the mind and will of God.” (O’Driscoll, The Word Among Us, Year C vol. 1, p. 15.

Confidence comes from the roots con, meaning “with,” and fides, meaning “faith.” The true meaning of confidence is to live with faith, to have our lives rooted and grounded in faith.

What are these readings saying to us, here in the year 2018?

First, in the midst of one of the most devastating tragedies in history, the Babylonian Captivity, Jeremiah, one of God’s greatest and most courageous prophets, reaches into the heart of God’s life with God’s people and reminds us that God’s promise is always to bring wholeness out of brokenness, life out of death, meaning and purpose out of chaos and confusion. As God’s people, we are called to focus on the light of that hope and to move forward in faith.

Secondly, we learn from St. Paul and the Thessalonians that love is at the center of everything. Grace is a small congregation, but, like the church at Thessalonica, Grace is a congregation where folks love each other and share God’s love with all people. It is easy to take that for granted or to diminish the value of that, but the power of love is beyond our imagining or understanding. Love is a gift from God. a gift to be cherished.

Finally, our Lord is talking to us about the time when he will come to make the creation whole. He calls us to be ready. He also tells us not to try to figure out when that moment will come, but simply to be ready all the time.

When he does come to bring in his shalom, we do not need to be afraid. Yes, he is our King. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yes, he is mighty. And he is also the One who has said that his kingdom is within us. He is also our Good Shepherd, who knows each of us, weaknesses and strengths, gifts and flaws, and he calls us each by name, and we follow him. Into his kingdom.  Amen.

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