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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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Christmas Eve   December 24, 2019

Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

This year, I have been thinking of the word Emmanuel—God with us.

What does that mean? In what way or ways is God with us?

In one of the gospels appointed for Christmas, which is also the gospel we read on the First Sunday after Christmas, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The Word is the One who called the whole creation into being, the One who has the power to create galaxies, the One who created the universe.

And today, we read of how the eternal Word, God, came to be with us. God didn’t skip any of the steps in being human. God was a little embryo inside his mother, Mary, just as we were inside our mothers.  Because his conception date was before his parents’ wedding date, and people could count, and perhaps some tongues could wag, he was born under a shadow of illegitimacy.

From the first, his family faced challenges. It was a long and extremely uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem for a pregnant woman. And after his birth, Herod decided to kill all the baby boys under the age of two, and the family became refugees, fleeing to Egypt for safety. The Eternal Word, coming to be with us, did not have a life of privilege.

After a while, the family returned to Nazareth, and we can picture Jesus learning the carpenter’s trade. His birth took place in a small town. and his life was lived in another small village. The first witnesses to this birth were the shepherds. For most of us, who live in small towns in Vermont, it is not a huge leap to picture angels calling our neighbor Vermont farmers to come to Fairfield or Montgomery or Fletcher or Franklin or Sheldon to welcome this new king who has been born in somebody’s stable.

God with us. A God who loves us that much. A God who gives us free will and, as we misuse that gift and get into more and more trouble,  comes to join us, to be one of us. That’s why we call Jesus our Good Shepherd. He loves us; he knows each of us, and he, like any biblical shepherd, goes out in front of us and leads us—leads us to the good water holes, the most nourishing pastures, leads us away from briars and poisonous plants, and risks his life protecting us from lions and bears. There actually were lions and bears in Israel in the time of Jesus.

He was just an ordinary guy, working with his Dad in the carpenter shop. By the time he was old enough to do that, his family had faced major challenges that could have killed them. Then he went out into the world to share his message of love—love God, love each other, love everyone because everyone is a child of God just as we are. And he healed and welcomed and loved and taught everyone who came to him

And for that he was killed by people who had turf they wanted to protect. Even religious leaders. And, as Barbara Brown Taylor has told us, on that cross he took all that death and brokenness and hate and worked with it for three days and gave it back to us as life and love.

He was and is truly one of us—completely human and ordinary. He and Joseph could have helped us with the construction of our new interfaith food shelf building. And because he is one of us, and because he gives us his grace, we can follow him— follow his way of love. We can love people, feed them when they are hungry, give those who are thirsty something to drink, welcome people, give clothing to those who have nothing to wear, care for people when thy are sick, go and visit those are in prison, whether there are locks and bars or not.

His is a kingdom of peace, love, healing, and wholeness. If we follow him, if we become more and more like him, we will be helping him to build his kingdom, his shalom, “and the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.”

Come let us adore him. Come, let us follow him.  Amen.

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