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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 4B April 25, 2021

Acts 4:5-12
Psalm 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

In our opening reading from the Book of Acts, Peter and John have healed a man who has been lame from birth. A crowd has gathered, and the authorities have become alarmed at the size of the crowd and at Peter’s insistence that the man’s healing happened in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Peter is not afraid. He is so filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit that he feels compelled to share the good news that Jesus has healed this man.

Our psalm for today is one of the most beloved psalms in the Bible. When we meditate on this psalm, it fills us with assurance of the presence of our Lord, and it reminds us that Jesus is leading us every step of the way. He leads us to good pastures so that we can be nourished by his presence, and he leads us to the still waters where we can be quiet and know that our Lord is right beside us.

Our reading from the First Letter of John continues the exploration of the theme of God’s love. One of the gems of this passage is, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” 

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus has just healed a blind man on the sabbath, and the Pharisees are outraged. They have interrogated the man and his parents. Now they are questioning Jesus. In both our reading from Acts and our gospel for today, the authorities are upset about the power of Jesus to heal people.

Jesus says that he is the good shepherd. This year, as we are moving through this pandemic, I want to be sure that we understand the biblical shepherd. We often think of flocks of sheep being rather unruly, and border collies herding these sheep.

The biblical shepherd did not work that way. The biblical shepherd went ahead of the sheep to let them know that the path was safe. Because the sheep knew and trusted the shepherd, they followed as a group. In the village was a sheepfold. This was an impressive structure with very high walls. In that high wall was a very sturdy door. Someone guarded that door at night to keep the sheep safe. When each shepherd came to the door the next morning, the gatekeeper would let the shepherd in.

Each shepherd had a different voice and a different call. When the shepherd called, only his own sheep would follow. The sheep and the shepherd got to know each other very well. The shepherd knew the gifts and flaws of every sheep. He knew their idiosyncrasies, their little foibles and characteristics. He knew everything about them. And he loved those sheep. The sheep knew their shepherd would take care of them. So they followed him. 

Back in those times, there were still lions and bears in Palestine, and those lions and bears could attack the flock. Shepherds had to fight off those wild animals. Being a shepherd demanded great skill and courage.

When he had gathered his flock, the shepherd would lead them out into the pastures and hills beyond the village. When the next shepherd arrived, he would call his flock in the same way, each shepherd with a different voice and call. 

In the face of authorities challenging their mission of healing, both Peter and our Lord preach powerful and eloquent sermons. It is very sad to think that authorities, even religious authorities, would try to stop people from healing because the law says you can’t do that on the sabbath. Both Peter and Jesus make it clear that human rules cannot stop God’s healing power.

Jesus gives his life for his sheep. And he is calling everyone to join his flock. The hired hands are in it for themselves. The good shepherd is here to lead and protect his sheep. He willingly lays down his life for his sheep. Good leaders should not be in it for themselves, They should really care. There is a contrast between the authorities and Peter and Jesus.

But there is something even more important. Every one of us, and all of us together, those on Zoom and those who are not, everybody is a part of Jesus’ beloved flock. And here we are, over a year into this Covid Era. 

Every day of all those weeks. Jesus has called us each by name and we have recognized his loving and courageous voice. We know he would give his life for us. He already has. And here he is, calling to us, Here he is, in our midst, even though we haven’t been able to celebrate Holy Eucharist together and do so many of the other things that we hold as precious gifts and signs of our faith. Yet, we are here, and he is here with us.

We can hear his voice. “I know my sheep and my own know me,” he says. And we know he has given his life for us. And we know that he is risen and right here with us. We are not alone. He is leading us and guiding us. We stay together; we move together; we work together; he loves us and we love him and each other.

This coming Sunday. May 2, we have the opportunity return to hybrid worship. If the weather permits, some of us will be outdoors at Grace. The rest of us will be on Zoom. When we are allowed to be inside our beloved building, we will continue our hybrid worship. Some of us will be at Grace, Some will be at home on Zoom. We will stay together.

This gospel is about the crucifixion. And it is about Easter. Jesus gives his life for the sheep, for us, and for everyone. Out of the pain and struggle and brokenness of the cross, our Lord brings life. Love is the most powerful force in the world. Reaching out to others, helping them, healing them, giving of ourselves, that is the Way of Love. Let us continue to help and serve others in Jesus’ name, Let us continue to walk the Way of Love. Amen.

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