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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:…

Lent 2A March 8, 2020

Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
John 3:1-17

Our first reading today is so short, yet it says so much. Abram, later renamed Abraham, is one of the greatest examples of faith in all of the Bible. He lives in Ur of the Chaldeans, in a region which in those days was called Mesopotamia, on the bank of the Euphrates River, about 225 miles southeast of present-day Baghdad, Iraq. It is about 1600 years before the birth of Christ. 

God is calling Abram to make a journey far away from everything and everyone that he knows. Abram has a comfortable life and many possessions. Yet he packs everything up and goes on a journey.

That is what we are doing this Lent. We are going on a journey to grow closer to God. We are going on a journey to become more and more the persons God calls us to be.

Our psalm for today is one of my favorites, and, I think it may be one of your as well. It speaks of the hills, and we can think of our beloved Green Mountains and all the smaller hills that we love. This psalm reminds us that God is with us every moment of our lives. God watches over us. For those of us who are reading The Restoration, this psalm reminds us of Step One, remembering that God is everywhere and God is always with us.

In our gospel for today, we have the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Judah. This is a group of extremely powerful men who make decisions that govern the religious and community life of the people. As a member of the Council, Nicodemus is familiar with the ways of worldly power.

Nicodemus has been hearing about Jesus and he may even have seen our Lord from a distance or heard him speak. In any case, Nicodemus has reached the point where he simply must go and talk with Jesus. But if he goes in the daytime, people will see him and this could cause great trouble for him. He could lose his place on the Council, and he could lose his life for associating with this powerful teacher who is a threat to those in power.

So, Nicodemus goes to see Jesus under cover of night. Nicodemus gets right to the point. He says that Jesus must come from God because of his teachings and his healings.

But then Jesus makes a spiritual quantum leap. He tells Nicodemus that we can’t see the kingdom of God without being born from above.

Poor Nicodemus is overwhelmed by this, and he takes it in a concrete sense, thinking that we will all have to go back into our mothers’ wombs and be born again. Then Jesus says that we have to be born of water and Spirit. For us, this is a clear reference to Baptism.

Nicodemus is still trying to figure all of this out. “How can these things be?” he asks with some frustration. Jesus refers to the time when poisonous snakes were biting and killing God’s people in the desert and God ordered Moses to hold up a statue of a serpent, which cured the people of the snake bites. and prevented them from dying. This is also a reference to the cross. And then our Lord says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

We do not meet Nicodemus again until after Jesus has been crucified. According to John’s gospel, Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate’s permission to take Jesus’ body down from the cross and bury it in his own tomb. Nicodemus comes with spices to anoint the beloved body  of our lord. Both men are members of the Council, and both are risking their lives.

We can imagine that Nicodemus never forgot his meeting with Jesus. that he meditated on their conversation and grew in his understanding of who Jesus really was.

Abraham’s journey was both earthly and spiritual. He traveled hundreds of miles to a new land, always trusting in God’s promise that in Abraham all the families of earth would be blessed. The journey of Nicodemus was not geographical but spiritual.

Every day he would go to his work on the Sanhedrin. He would watch as a kangaroo court found Jesus guilty and as an angry mob demanded his death. As far as we know, he had only one close, face to face meeting with Jesus, but every day he grew closer and closer to our Lord, until the time came when his love for Jesus told him that he had to help his colleague Joseph of Arimathea take care of our Lord’s body no matter what that action might cost. He and Joseph were not able to save Jesus, but they felt compelled to give his precious body a decent burial.

Abraham went on a journey into the unknown with complete trust that God would lead him in the right direction. Nicodemus had the courage to go and meet with Jesus, and after that, his life was never the same. He grew closer and closer to Jesus. He grew to love Jesus so much that he joined Joseph in carrying out the most intimate and loving act of washing and anointing Jesus’ body for burial.

Lent is a journey. God’s people journeyed for forty years in the desert. Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days in the wilderness. We journey together to grow closer to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Closer to realizing that God is always with us, leading and guiding us, forgiving us. feeding us, giving us the grace to take the next step, the next leap of faith, the next quantum leap into the loving heart of God. Amen.

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