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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 9 Proper 14C August 11, 2019

Isaiah 1:1. 10-20
Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

Our first reading today, from the prophet Isaiah, dates back to around 742 B.C. Isaiah’s ministry began in the Southern Kingdom of Judah a bit after the time of Amos and Hosea. Scholars tell us that Isaiah was probably familiar with the work of his two colleagues who ministered in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Isaiah addresses the kings of his time. He calls them “rulers of Sodom” and “people of Gomorrah.” This language serves as a big wake up call. The prophet is addressing a society whose leaders need a major transformation.

Isaiah addresses the issue of worship. The temple in Jerusalem was the center of the life of the people. Sacrifices were being offered; holy days were being observed in worship, but there was a glaring problem. The leaders were corrupt. Even those leading worship in the temple were not adhering to God’s values.

God does not want offerings of animals. God does not want the spilling of blood. God calls these “abominations.” We begin to wonder, is God asking the temple officials to stop all worship?

Then God hits the nail on the head: “I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.” What is going on here? The temple leaders are conducting the services, but their hearts are not in the right place. Their attitudes are so far away from what God wants us to have when we worship that God is disgusted.

God says. “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do good; seek justice; rescue the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow. In the society of the Southern Kingdom, the rulers are corrupt; the gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger and larger. God is calling them to return to justice, help the oppressed, and care for those who are the most vulnerable.

This passage from Isaiah calls us to remember that when we worship God, we can’t just go through the motions and say the beautiful words in the prayer book and then ignore and forget the values of God’s kingdom. For us as Christians, the values expressed in our worship need to be reflected in our lives.

Our epistle, from the Letter to the Hebrews, was written to Jewish people who had made the decision to follow Jesus. This was extremely difficult for them. Their families could not understand what they were doing; their home congregations were upset, and, as followers of Christ, they were subject to persecution.

To give them strength for the journey, the writer of this inspiring letter turns to the great icon of faith, Abraham and his wife Sarah. When God called them, they set out from their comfortable life to go to an unknown country. Along the way, they met great dangers and challenges.

God had promised the they would have children as numerous as the stars, but, by the time they arrived at their new home, they were very, very old. When God came and told Sarah that she would have a child very soon, Sarah rolled on the floor with laughter, and it was infectious.  Abraham couldn’t help but laugh right along with her. Nine months later, their son Isaac was born. The story of these two courageous people reminds us that God loves us and that we can trust God to lead and guide us to the promised land.  

Our gospel for today is a reflection on our story last week of the man who had such an abundant harvest that he decided to tear down his barns and build new ones to hold all his riches.

Jesus begins with those wonderful and powerful words: “Do not be afraid.” God gives us good things beyond our imagining. God gives us God’s kingdom of peace and harmony. Our Lord reminds us to remember how much God loves us, and to trust in God to guide and strengthen us.

Then our Lord gives us a kind of Advent call: “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” Don’t be like those five foolish maidens who ran out of oil. When the master comes, open the door for him. And then what happens? He invites us to sit down and he serves us a meal. Our Lord truly turns the world upside down. Our Lord, our leader, is serving us, just as he washed our feet on Maundy Thursday.

If we are focused on him and on his shalom, his kingdom, we are constantly praying to him for grace to do his will. We are filled with his love and we are extending that love to others. We are working to build his shalom, his kingdom of peace, in which everyone has food and clothing and a place to live, and medical care and good work to do.

That’s what it means to be ready, to be awake. And then Jesus comes in and puts on an apron and serves us a meal! Patricia Lull from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota writes, “The Gospel text for this week entices the hearer to place first things first. The things of God are to be given the most urgent priority in every Christian’s life. Neither fear nor worldly distraction is to lure the children from God’s tender, attentive care.   God promises to surprise with the gift of the kingdom those who stand ready and willing to receive this singular treasure.” (Lull, Feasting on the Word Year C Volume 3, p. 334.

When our Lord comes again to bring in his kingdom, to complete his work of creation and heal and make the world whole and full of his love, it will be a time of great joy. This text adds a wonderful picture of our servant Lord serving us a midnight supper or an early morning breakfast!

May we stay awake. May be ready to receive him. May we be ready to receive the gift of his kingdom with great joy and gratitude. Amen.

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