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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 20 Proper 25C October 27, 2019

Joel 2:23-32
Psalm 65
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18:9-14

This sermon will be a bit shorter so that we can have some reports from Diocesan Convention.

We do not know a great deal about Joel, the writer of our first reading, but scholars think his ministry happened after King Cyrus of Persia conquered the Babylonians and allowed the exiles to return home. Joel describes a catastrophic attack of locusts which have destroyed everything. Now God us going to restore the land and make it fruitful.

Even more importantly, God is going to pour God’s spirit on all people. The people will dream dreams and have visions. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. As Christians, we know that God’s saving grace is with us every moment of every day as we follow Jesus.

In our epistle for today, Paul is in prison and he is dying. He sums up his life: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith….The Lord stood by me and gave me strength. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will save me for his heavenly kingdom.”

Our gospel for today is the well known parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. For context, we need to remember that, in Jesus’ time, Pharisees were highly respected. They were experts in the law and they were trying to figure out how human beings could be faithful to the law. On the other hand, tax collectors were people who collected taxes for the oppressors, the Roman Empire. They were hated because people saw them as helping the Roman government, which was occupying the country.  The text says that Jesus is telling this parable to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.”

The Pharisee is totally self-centered. He thinks he is perfect. He does everything right. He is ever so much better than that tax collector. Not only is he a narcissist on steroids, but he is also judgmental. He thinks he is so much better than other people, but he views other people as “thieves rogues, and adulterers.”

The tax collector does not even look up to heaven. He is well aware that he is not perfect. He does not compare himself to anyone. He is praying to God, the source of all goodness and mercy, and he is profoundly aware that he is a flawed human being. He asks God’s forgiveness. For him in this situation of prayer, there are only two participants—himself and God.

The Pharisee is a closed system. Nothing new gets into his mind and heart. He is talking to himself, and the only person he listens to is himself. The tax collector is an example of humility. Humility, from the same root as humus— good earth plowed and harrowed and ready for planting. Humility is openness to God’s guidance, love, healing, and forgiveness. The tax collector is open to God’s grace. The Pharisee, a privileged scholar of the law, is not. Once again, the outsider, the one at the margins, is our holy example.

Gracious and loving God, may we have the depth of faith that Paul had. May we fight the good fight. May we run the race. May we have the openness to receive your love and grace and to ask your guidance in all things.  Amen.

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