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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 2B February 28, 2021

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:22-30
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

In our first reading today, we meet Abram and Sarai, who will become Abraham and Sarah. Abraham is a shining example of someone who has deep and abiding faith in God. God is telling Abraham and Sarah that God is going to make Abraham and Sarah the parents of  “a multitude of nations.” Abraham is 99 and Sarah is not far behind him in age, yet God is making this covenant with them. They will have as many descendants as the number of grains of sand on the beach or the number of stars in the sky.

Frederick Buechner is a Presbyterian minister and writer who lives in southern Vermont. Here is his description of Abraham and Sarah. “They had quite a life, the old pair. Years before. they had gotten off to a good start in Mesopotamia. They had a nice house in the suburbs with a two-car garage and color TV and a barbecue pit. They had a room all fixed up for when the babies started coming. With their health and each other and their families behind them they had what is known as a future. Sarah got her clothes at Bonwit’s, did volunteer work at the hospital, was a member of the League of Women Voters. Abraham was pulling down an excellent salary for a young man, plus generous fringe benefits and an enlightened retirement plan. And then they got religion, or religion got them, and Abraham was convinced that what God wanted them to do was pull up stakes and head out for Canaan where God promised that he would make Abraham the father of a great nation which would in turn be a blessing to all nations and that’s where their troubles started.

“They put their house on the market and gave the color TV to the hospital and got a good price for the crib and bassinet because they had never been used and were as good as new….

“So off they went in their station wagon with a U-Haul behind and a handful of friends and relations, who, if they didn’t share Abraham’s religious convictions, decided to hitch their wagon to his star anyway.

(Buechner, Telling the truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, pp. 50-51.)

Abraham and Sarah lived in Ur of the  Chaldeans, which is now a city in southern Iraq. The distance from Ur to Canaan is 3,461 miles. Abraham and Sara had no idea where they were going. God told them God would lead them there, and they trusted God. Think of starting on a journey to an unknown land and trusting God to help us find the way. That is real faith. Think of packing everything into a U-Haul and driving into the unknown. Think of packing everything onto camels or donkeys. Abraham and Sarah had deep faith. And, since we know the ending, we know that they persevered to the end. Sarah had a son, Isaac.

The other example of faith I would like to share today is Eric Liddell. In Holy Women, Holy Men and A Great Cloud of Witnesses, his commemoration date is February 22. Eric was born to Scottish missionaries in China in 1902. He and his older  brother Rob, were sent to a school for the children of missionaries in London. In school and later at the University of Edinburgh, Eric was a champion runner and rugby prayer. He was also an excellent student and a person of deep faith. On their leaves from missionary work, his family lived in Scotland, and the film Chariots of Fire portrays Eric running fleet-footed in the Scottish highlands.

In the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Eric was slated to run the 100 meter race and was strongly favored to win the gold medal. After arriving in Paris, Eric was told that the race was scheduled for a Sunday. Because he strongly believed in the observance of the Sabbath, Eric refused to run the race. He ran the 400 meter race and won the gold medal. He also ran the 200 meter and won a bronze medal behind two American runners.

After his graduation from Edinburgh, Eric returned to the area in China where he had been born and served as a missionary from 1925 to 1943. In 1932, he was ordained a minister in the Congregational Union of Scotland. Because of conflict between China and Japan, the missionaries suffered many hardships. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the British government advised all British citizens to leave the country. Eric’s wife, Florence, who was from Canada, took their three children and went to be near her parents.

Eric and his brother Rob stayed on and continued their work. In 1943 Eric was interned in the Japanese concentration camp in Weihsein. This camp held 1,800 people from many allied countries under terrible conditions. Holy Women, Holy Men tells us that Eric won the trust of his captors so that he could go around the camp and minister to his fellow prisoners. He died shortly before the camp’s liberation on August 17, 1945. He was 43 years old.

We have Abraham and Sarah and so many other people of deep faith, On Tuesday, we remembered Polycarp, a faithful and gentle Bishop who was burned at the stake. On Wednesday, Matthias, who replaced Judas as an apostle, on Thursday,  John Roberts, a priest who worked with First Nation people in Wyoming. We are all on a journey of faith, and thank God for all the holy examples of people we have to guide us. We are all taking up our cross, trying, with God’s grace, to follow our Lord Jesus in the way of the Cross, the Way of Love.

We can think of Abraham and Sarah, traveling all those miles without a road map, GPS, cars, or airplanes. We can think of Eric Liddell, a champion athlete in sport, and a champion of faith, doing all he could do to comfort his fellow prisoners who were suffering under inhumane conditions. And all the saints of God who have shared God’s love and hope with others over all these centuries. We are part of that great cloud of witnesses. And we love and support each other. Through this wilderness journey we have stayed together and prayed together and encouraged each other. And in the midst of us, often out ahead us leading us, is Jesus, our Good Shepherd, making sure we stay on track, nourishing us with his presence, protecting us so that we can share the good news of his love.  Amen.

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