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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:…

Easter 2B April 11, 2021

Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133
1 John:1:1-2:2
John 20:19-31

Our gospel for today is always the gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter. The Easter season lasts for fifty days. During Lent, we could not say “Alleluia!” because Lent is a solemn time of penitence. Now, our worship is full of alleluias.

Every Sunday on this day, we read this wonderful gospel. It is the evening of the day of resurrection. Just this morning, the women or Mary Magdalene alone, depending on which gospel we are reading, made their way to the place where Jesus was buried and found the tomb empty. If we are reading John’s account of the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene actually meets Jesus. In Mark’s account, which we read this year, an angel tells the women that Jesus is risen.

That evening, the followers of Jesus are gathered. The doors are locked for fear of the authorities. It was only three days ago that these people witnessed the death of Jesus and they know that soldiers could come and arrest them at any time. They are still afraid, and with good reason.

There is something I never quite noticed before; it is a sign of great courage that they are all gathered together. Yes, Peter denied Jesus three times, and, yes, not all of them had the courage to stand at the foot of the cross, but most of them have come to be with the other followers of our Lord. That took courage.

There they are, gripped by fear. Suddenly, quietly, Jesus is there. No walls or locks, no tyrants who are willing to kill in order to keep control,  no amount of fear can keep him away from them. And what is his first word? “Peace be with you.” Shalom be with you.

Into the center of their their fear, into the heart of their fear, our Lord places his shalom, his peace, his vision of a kingdom of wholeness, harmony, peace, and love, in which everyone will have enough to eat, clothes to wear, good work to do, his shalom in which all people will be cared for, his shalom in which the creation and everything in it will be made whole.

Only Mary Magdalene had actually seen him. The other women had heard that he had risen, But now they are seeing him, now they are feeling his presence, the peace and love radiating out from him and filling their hearts with relief and hope.

Then he breathes on them just as God breathed the Spirit into Adam, and he says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven, If you retain the sins of any they are retained.” He is giving them and us the ministry of reconciliation. He is calling us to bring God’s peace and healing to the world.

When Thomas arrives, they tell them they have seen the Lord. But he cannot believe it. He tells them he is going to have to put his hands in Jesus’ wounds in order to believe. 

Jesus always tries to help us strengthen our faith, and he demonstrates that trait in his treatment of Thomas. A week later, they are gathered again, and Jesus appears. He invites Thomas to touch his wounds. But Thomas does not ned to do that. He bursts into a prayer of adoration: “My Lord and my God!”

And then our Lord says, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” And that blessing from Jesus is for us and for millions of others who were not in the house with his followers on that first Easter evening and the visit a week later.

During the Easter season, all of our readings come from the New Testament, or Greek Scriptures, because they were written in Greek. This reminds us that we are an Easter people, a people of faith, hope, and love.

In our first reading, from the Book of Acts, time has passed. Peter and John have healed a man who has been lame from birth. When asked how they could do this, they say that it is through the power of Jesus of Nazareth. Many people have witnessed this healing and have heard Peter speak. The authorities are afraid that Peter and John will draw a large following, so they arrest them. Our passage for today comes just after Peter and John are freed.

The text tells us that the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem “were of one heart and one mind.” That is an excellent definition of Christian community. The text says, “great grace was upon them all.” Scholars tell us that most of the early followers of our Lord were not wealthy. They were ordinary people. And yet, they walked the Way of Love. They took care of each other. In these two readings, we see how the presence of the living Christ moves his followers from locking the doors in fear to being a vibrant community walking the Way of Love.

During this pandemic, we have seen a great deal of fear. There are also people who think Covid 19 is not real. For those of us who follow the science, it is clear that this virus is very real and highly adaptive. Now, we are trying to get everyone vaccinated while we continue to follow the health measures so that we can limit the incidence of mutations. The experts are advising us to continue to be careful. Let’s keep running the race until we get to the finish line.

My impression of our Grace community is that we have not been governed by fear, but we have paid attention to the science and  common sense, which I think is a good thing. However, even though we have not been paralyzed by fear, we can be galvanized and energized by the presence of our living Lord. We can be so thankful for his presence. 

Risen Lord, thank you so much for being with us every step of the way, for leading us through this challenging time. Help us to hang in there for the long haul. Help us to share your love with everyone we meet, a word of comfort here, a box of food there. Help us to be rooted and grounded in you, your living presence. And help us to continue to walk the Way of Love and to be your Beloved Community. In your holy Name. Amen.

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