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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:…

Easter 5C May 19, 2019

Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

In our opening reading from the Book of Acts, which I like to call the newspaper of the Jesus Movement, Peter is meeting with the members of the new community of faith in Jerusalem. Those who are convinced that followers of Jesus must follow every letter of the law are upset that Peter is associating with Gentiles. 

This is a pivotal moment in the history of the new community of faith. Are they going to decide that they must stick to their honored traditions and admit only those who follow the law, or are they going to open up the doors to everyone? Are they going to be exclusive or inclusive?

Those who are questioning why Peter would associate with Gentiles are sincere and good people. Peter himself used to feel as they do, that this new faith is only for his own people. But the question for us in every age is: What is God calling us to do?

Peter shares the experience he had up on the roof when he was praying. God showed Peter that people can eat any foods they wish. The dietary laws have been transcended. And there is something else: God has called Peter to go and share the good news with Gentiles. He has just gone to the home of Cornelius the Centurion, and the Holy Spirit has fallen on the people gathered there. Peter and his team have baptized these people because God has given them the gifts of the Spirit.

God is doing a new thing. God is pouring out the Holy Spirit on all people. In this reading, God is showing the early disciples and us that God has a big family. It includes everyone. If those followers of Jesus had not listened to Peter and heard God’s message, we would not be here today. Thank God that Peter and the people gathered in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago listened for God’s voice. May we, too, listen carefully and hear the voice of God.

As we consider our reading from the Book of Revelation, we remember that this book was written in code to inspire and energize the followers of Jesus who were being persecuted. These visions of God and Jesus being worshipped by a great multitude of saints carried our ancestors in the faith through trials and tribulations that we could never imagine.

Just as he spoke to those faithful saints centuries ago, our Lord is telling us, “See, I am making all things new. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” Our Lord will nourish us with living water. He will give us the food of everlasting life. He will help us to meet every challenge.

Our gospel for today is brief, but so powerful. Judas has just gone out to betray Jesus. Our Lord is telling us that by his going through the horror of the cross, God will be glorified. And that is what we Christians believe, that Our Lord has conquered all forms of brokenness, even death. The paradox of the cross is something we all meditate on our whole lives. Out of darkness and suffering and pain, and death, God brings wholeness and hope, and new life. We will never understand this entirely. It is the greatest mystery of our faith. We keep praying about it. Every Good Friday we contemplate the depths of this mystery. In our lives we experience how the presence of God and Jesus and the Spirit can lead us through challenges that we could never have endured without them, and that from these experiences of suffering, we become stronger and more compassionate. From these deathly experiences, we grow more completely into new life.

Jesus is leaving his followers. He will die. They will be without him. They will miss him terribly. But then, as we know, he will appear in a room with locked doors; he will suddenly be there with two followers walking to Emmaus and they will finally realize who he is when they share the bread; he will be there on the beach with a fish and bread breakfast when Peter and the others have been out all night fishing and have caught nothing.

And what is his message to them as he prepares to leave them? What is his message to us, as he hosts this meal for us, as he leads us on the journey of faith?

It’s the message we heard on Maundy Thursday as he washed our feet. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

God is doing a new thing. God is dissolving boundaries. The new faith is for everyone. We have a powerful message: God loves everyone.

Yesterday, delegates from all over Vermont gathered in Burlington to elect a new bishop to be a servant leader for the Episcopal Church in Vermont. We have been praying about this for weeks. Our committees have done an excellent job in expressing who we are and in helping us to meet and get to know three wonderful, faithful priests who have felt a call to be the eleventh Bishop of Vermont.

As you may know, we gathered in prayer, and, with God’s help, we called the Rev. Dr. Shannon McVean-Brown to be our Bishop-Elect.                                                                         

Please keep Shannon and her family in your prayers.

On a sturdy foundation of scripture, tradition, and reason, God is doing a new thing. And our Lord is calling us to love one another and to extend his love to everyone.  Amen.

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