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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:…

Pentecost 6 Proper 10A July 12, 2020

Genesis 25:19-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

In our opening reading, we have the continuation of the story of Abraham and Sarah. We discover that their only son, Isaac, was forty years old when he married Rebekah. Like her mother-in-law, Sarah, Rebekah was barren. Isaac prayed to God, and, at last, Rebekah became pregnant.

But there were two children within her and they struggled, so much that Rebekah wondered, if this was going to be such a struggle, why was she alive at all. When she asked God about this, she was told that there were two nations inside her, and that the older would serve the younger. Usually. the oldest son became the head of the family, so the idea of the older serving the younger was highly unusual.

When the two boys are born, Esau emerges first, but his brother Jacob is born holding onto his brother’s heel. As it turns out, Jacob definitely behaves like a heel. Esau grows up to be a hunter and a “man of the field,” while Jacob is quiet and lives in tents. These are the traits of the nations they represent. The Edomites were hunters and the Israelites were a people who live in tents. There is a further twist in the family dynamics: Isaac loves Esau because he likes game. And Rebekah loves Jacob best.

The boys are now grown up, and Esau comes in from hunting to find Jacob cooking a lentil stew. Esau is famished. He asks Jacob for a helping of stew. Most brothers would gladly share the meal, but not Jacob. Here’s where the heel aspect comes in. He demands that Esau sell him his birthright in exchange for the stew. 

This is no small matter. The son with the birthright becomes the leader of the family, and he also gets a double portion of the inheritance. We could say that Esau is a master of living in the moment, a skilled practitioner of mindfulness. Or we could say that he wasn’t exactly great at taking the long view or planning ahead. He answers Jacob, “I’m so hungry that I’m about to die, so who cares about a silly old birthright?” But Jacob the heel won’t give Esau the bowl of stew until Esau swears to him that he will keep this agreement. That’s the story of how two brothers struggled from the beginning and Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.

But let us remind ourselves of that bumper sticker from some time ago: “Be patient with me—God isn’t finished with me yet.” These words could well apply to Jacob. He started out as a cheater and a scoundrel, but God kept working with him.

In our epistle for today, Paul offers us a contrast between life in the spirit and life on the human, worldly level. The world calls us to get to the top of the ladder as fast as we can, achieve power and prestige, accumulate money and possessions, compete with others and win, no matter how ruthless we have to be.

Life with God, life in the Spirit, calls us to love God and love others as we love ourselves. In Galatians 5:22, Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul tells us that, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Here the flesh means worldly, self-centered values. Paul tells us, “The Spirit of God dwells in you.” We are following Jesus, and following Jesus leads to life in a new dimension, life in the Spirit, fullness of life now.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. Back in his time, you did not plow and harrow first; you scattered the seed over the field in an arcing motion. Some would fall on rocks, or thorns, some on the path, and others on good soil. In spite of these poor odds, Jesus says, there is a bountiful crop, a hundredfold, sixtyfold, thirtyfold. He is talking about his kingdom. No matter what challenges there are, the kingdom of God is growing. 

Scholars tell us that Jesus did not interpret his parables. The explanation was added by later writers. Matthew’s gospel was written about 70 years after the birth of Christ, in a time of persecution. The path, the rocky ground, and the thorns all describe things that could make people leave the community of faith. But the ultimate point is that, despite the obstacles, the harvest is huge. Scholars tell us that back in those days a sevenfold to tenfold harvest was average and here we have thirty to sixty to a hundredfold. (Cousar, Texts for Preaching, p. 404._ Our final hymn, “God is working his purpose out,” reminds us that the shalom of God is growing all the time.

In our Collect for today, we pray that we may “know and understand what things we ought to do,” and also “may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them.”

We look out upon a country where many states have opened up too quickly and now are having to go back several steps. We see infection and death rates skyrocketing in those areas. Meanwhile, Vermont is moving ahead, a quarter-turn at a time, and Governor Scott has consistently said that he is following medical advice and going slowly precisely to avoid having to go backward. We are learning new things about mini aerosols, tiny droplets that can stay in the air for days, far longer than the virus survives on paper goods. We are learning that masks definitely help to control the spread of the virus. Though our governor chose never to mandate masks, most Vermonters are wearing them as a matter of choice. Our food shelf volunteers continue to distribute food to those who need it.

We are called to follow the way of the Spirit. We are following Jesus, and, as we ask him for direction, he will lead us to do the things he calls us to do. I thank God that here in Vermont, we are remembering that we need to take care of and protect each other. May we continue to love God and love each other. We are nearing the two hundred and fourth birthday of Grace Church, and I thank God for the faithful, loving people who went before us. May we continue to follow Jesus and may we continue to help him to build his kingdom of peace. love, and harmony. Amen.

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