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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:…

All Saints Sunday Year C November 3, 2019

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6:20-31

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Daniel. This book was written to inspire God’s people during a time when they were being persecuted by an extremely cruel tyrant called Antiochus IV. The book purports to be taking place at the time of the Exile from 586 to 538 B.C.E., but it was actually written during the time of Antiochus. Using information in the book, scholars can actually date it to 167-164 B.C.E. (Gene M. Tucker, Preaching through the Christian Year C, p. 482.)

We remember Daniel as the great hero who won the battle against the lions in that famous den. Our passage today describes a vision. The four winds of heaven stir up the great sea, and four great beasts come up out of the sea. The actual descriptions of the four beasts are omitted, but they represent four empires—the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks.

Earthly empires rise and fall, but the holy ones of God will receive and possess God’s kingdom forever. This was a beacon of hope and inspiration to God’s people struggling under the cruelty of a tyrant who was persecuting them.

In our reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, we read of the precious inheritance we have received. Like all the saints who came before us, we have set our hope on Christ. We read these stirring words. “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which he has called you.” There is that word again—hope. We are a people of hope.

We have received such a great gift. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, all the saints who have gone before us, those who are here now, and those who will follow, and they are all cheering us on as we run the race, following our Lord Jesus. As Sister Rachel Hosmer of the Order of Saint Helena used to say, “Christ has won the victory. We are part of the mopping up operation.”

As we celebrate All Saints Sunday and think of all those who have gone before us—Laura, Hoddie, Charlotte, Harriet, Gertrude, Geraldine, A. J., Theresa, Gwen, Ruth, Frederika, Kate, Arthur, Eva, Albert, Sue, Alvin, Nat and so many more, we contemplate our gospel for today, Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain.

Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is easier. It has all blessings and no woes. It is placed more on a spiritual level—“Blessed are the poor in spirit” rather than simply “Blessed are the poor.” In Luke’s gospel, our Lord says, blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated, excluded, reviled, and defamed on account of our Lord. Woe to those who are rich, full, laughing. Woe to you when people speak well of you. As many have observed, it is a huge reversal. 

Fred Craddock reminds us of the time when our Lord read the prophecy of Isaiah in the synagogue. When he finished, he said, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled.’ (Luke 4:21.) Craddock writes, “The today that Jesus declared in Nazareth still prevails. The messiah who will come has come, and the prophecy of Isaiah  (Isaiah 61:1-2) concerning the poor, the diseased, the imprisoned, and the oppressed is no longer a hope but is an agenda for the followers of Jesus.” (Craddock, Interpretation: Luke, p.88.)

In this sermon on the plain, on the level, Jesus is calling us to take the poor and hungry as seriously as we do the rich and those who have plenty of food. This is just another way of saying that this gospel is calling us to honor our baptismal covenant to “respect the dignity of every human being.”

The last portion of this reading is even more challenging to us. Our Lord calls us to love our enemies and to pray for those who abuse us. Craddock writes, “This unit… lays down the general principle that Jesus’ followers do not reciprocate, do not retaliate, and do not draw their behavior patterns from those who would victimize them.” (Craddock, p. 89.) At the same time we need to say that, if someone is being abused, they have every right to seek help. healing, and justice. 

And then he sums it up with what we know as the Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Every major religion in the world has this rule or something like it. As we all know, if all of us followed the rule, God’s kingdom would come to the earth.

As we meditate on these readings, I thank God that you and I are not in this moment living in fear of being killed by someone like Antiochus IV, but there are many people who are facing such persecution in one way or another, and I hope we will pray for them and pray and work for the day when there will be peace on earth, when everyone will have enough to eat, water to drink, clothing  and safe shelter and medical care and good work to do.

As I think of these beatitudes, I think of our interfaith food shelf. People are welcomed with hospitality and respect. No one is turned away.  Our two main upstairs greeters who welcome folks and keep our records for the United Way and other agencies know almost all of our clients by name. I have seen them deal with folks who feel ashamed to have to ask for food. I have seen our volunteers extend God’s love to these people. I think that is what our Lord is talking about in this gospel.

As we celebrate with joy this great feast of All Saints, I hope we will feel the energy and love of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. May we continue to build God’s kingdom of peace, harmony, and wholeness  Amen.

 

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