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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:…
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Pentecost 7 Proper 12C July 28, 2019

Hosea 1:2-10
Psalm 85
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Luke 11:1-13

In our opening reading, we meet the prophet Hosea, whose ministry in the Northern Kingdom followed that of Amos. Hosea was married to a woman who was unfaithful. We do not know the details of how this happened. What we do know is that Hosea compared his experience of living with an unfaithful spouse to God’s experience with the unfaithful people of the Northern kingdom.

United Methodist Bishop William Willimon writes, “…Hosea—through vivid, striking, even offensive metaphors—reveals the heart of a God who passionately loves, forgives, seeks, finds, wants, pleads, and saves.” (Willimon, Feasting on the Word, Year C, vol. 3, p. 272.)

Hosea makes it clear that God cares deeply about us; God is not a distant observer. God is deeply involved in our lives and wants us to have lives of wholeness rather than brokenness. 

In our reading from the Letter to the Colossians, we read that we are part of the Body of Christ, that we are knit together, we are intimately connected,  with our Lord and with each other. Because of this we are called to “abound in thanksgiving.” Gratitude is a powerful force for good. We have so much to be thankful for. This passage tells us that in Christ. “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This means that we can look at the life and ministry of our Lord and see what God would do if God were to come to earth.

Jesus is God walking the face of the earth. As we look at his life, we have a living example of how to conduct our lives. The text says that our Lord has “made us alive together with him.” Jesus has given us new life, life rooted and grounded in a fullness and joy which we could not know without him. Our Lord has made us one with him and with each other. He has made us a part of himself. We are members of his living Body, the Church.

In our gospel, Jesus and the disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. They have just ended their visit with Mary and Martha. As he so often did, Jesus has been praying, and one of the disciples, we do not know which one, asks, “Lord, teach us to pray.” 

Jesus says, “Father, hallowed be your name.” The word he uses is  the Aramaic word “Abba,” an intimate term for the word “Father.” He is asking us to call God “Dad” or” Daddy” or “Mom” or “Mama.” Because of God’s deep and abiding love, God has made us God’s children. We are as close to God as Jesus is, and Jesus is instructing and inviting us to address God in the most intimate, loving, family terms just as he addresses his Father in heaven.

This almost goes beyond our ability to understand. The power and depth of God’s love is beyond our imagining. It is a gift given to us and to all people. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “God has a big family.”

God’s Name is holy. We pray for the coming of God’s kingdom of peace, harmony, and wholeness, God’s shalom in which, as our retired Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori has said, everyone has “enough to eat,  adequate shelter, healthcare, and meaningful work.” And, in following Jesus, we are offering ourselves to help to bring in that kingdom. In praying this prayer, we are also praying that God will forgive our sins as we forgive others when they hurt us. As God has extended compassion and forgiveness to us, so God calls us to extend that compassion to others.

“And save us from the time of trial.” Scholars tell us that the “time of trial” is a challenge beyond the temptations of daily life. Matthew Skinner writes, “Jesus asks for protection from circumstances that test or imperil faith, especially from the threat of persecution.” (Skinner, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Vol, 3, p. 289.)

Then our Lord tells a parable. A man has had an unexpected visitor, and he must feed his guest and give him lodging. He goes to his neighbor and asks for three loaves of bread. All of Jesus’ listeners know the rules of middle eastern hospitality. If someone knocks at your door, you have to feed them and give them lodging. If you do not have enough bread, you ask a neighbor for some bread,  and he has to give it to you. This particular neighbor at first delays but then finally gets up and gives his neighbor the bread.

God’s response to our prayers is very different from the response of this reluctant neighbor. God is always ready to respond and give us what we need. Later in Luke’s gospel, we will read of the father who is waiting in the driveway when his wayward son finally comes home. God is always there waiting for us.

In one way or another, all of these readings remind us of how much we need God. They reassure us of God’s unfailing love for us, and they invite us to remember that we are not alone. We have a loving divine parent. And we have each other. And we have that “great cloud of witnesses,” the communion of saints, members of the Body of Christ who have gone before us. They are praying for us even as we remember them and miss them and pray for them.

In this age of technology, it is easy to forget how much we need God.  It is tempting to feel that we are totally in charge and we have everything in control. In prayer, we acknowledge God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. We admit that we need God’s help, and we sincerely seek God’s guidance. Today’s readings remind us that God is always ready to listen and to respond. 

Loving God, thank you for your love, mercy, healing, and forgiveness. As we pass through things temporal, help us not to lose those things which are eternal. Lead us and guide us, O Lord. Amen.

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