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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 2 Proper 5B June 6, 2021

1 Samuel 8: 4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15)
Psalm 138
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

Our first reading from the first Book of Samuel invites us to look in on a crucial turning point in the history of God’s people. The elders of Israel come together and tell Samuel that he is old and his sons are not faithful followers of God as Samuel is. They want Samuel to appoint a king, as they say, “to govern us, like other nations.”

Samuel prays to the Lord. I think he is feeling rejected by the people. God tells Samuel to “listen to the voice of the people, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” God is making it clear that the people are rejecting God, not Samuel. 

Ever since the people left Egypt and escaped from slavery, the people have been led by judges. They are like the judges we know in that people can come to them and have them mediate or arbitrate in difficult situations, But they are much more. They are priestly and prophetic figures who can help the people to discern the will of God and then faithfully follow God’s leading. They are also skilled and courageous military leaders.

In a poignant moment, God actually tells Samuel that the people are rejecting God’s leadership. Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann writes, “In their craving for a monarchy, patterned not on Yahweh’s will but on the countless kingdoms around them, they are simply giving in to the ancient temptation to counter the sword with the sword.” He continues, “For simply to repose in the expectation that God will take care of all the hard issues of life is a thinly veiled form of escapism. We shall work for the kingdom because we must. Yet, even as we do so. we are forced to admit that it is not we, but God, who will eventually bring the kingdom into perfect realization. Our efforts, while useful, are inevitably distorted and sinful. But, as God did not abandon sinful Israel, so the true king will not abandon any who long and work for the in-breaking of the kingdom. Brueggemann, Texts for Preaching, p. 375-76.)

Samuel tells the people that the king will take their sons to serve in the military and make weapons and to plow and harvest the king’s crops. And the king will also take their daughters to serve as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. The list goes on, There will be a high price. And then he and the people anoint Saul as king. And a tragic period begins in the history of God’s people. Samuel lives long enough to anoint David the next king of Israel. Centuries later, Lord Acton summed it all up when he said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

In our epistle for today, Paul is writing to his beloved congregation in Corinth. There are some tensions going on. Scholars tell us that Paul had hoped to visit them and had not been able to. Also, false teachers are telling the people that Paul is insincere. Paul shares the depth of his faith by reminding us that we know that the one who raised Jesus from the dead can also raise us and can help us through every affliction. And he says, “So we do not lose heart.” We live in earthly bodies, which he compares to tents because they are temporary homes, but we are living in the realm of eternal life— life in a new dimension filled with light and love.

In our gospel, Jesus is in a house with his disciples. There are so many people there that they cannot eat. People want to hear what he has to say. They want to be with him. Some people are saying that Jesus is insane. The scribes have come down from Jerusalem and they say that he is healing people through the power of the head demon, Beelzebul. And Jesus tells them that you can’t cast out evil with evil.

For religious authorities to attribute the work of God to evil forces is the ultimate corruption. To confuse good with evil is a very dangerous and sinful thing. Jesus reminds us that “A house that is divided against itself cannot stand.” He is calling his people to be united and work for what is good.

Then someone tells him that his mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking to see him. And he looks around him and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and  mother.” We remember when he was on the cross, how he told John the apostle and his mother that they were now mother and son. He is creating a new family. a big family, as Archbishop Tutu says. All of us who are following him are part of that family. This does not take away from his love for his own genetic mother and brothers and sisters. His own  brother James became Bishop of Jerusalem and at the Council of Jerusalem insisted that all people are part of Jesus’ big family. 

These readings are so filled with important messages. Leaders are called to use their power for the good of the people. We as Christians are called to focus on the values of the shalom of God as we evaluate our leaders. There is a profound difference between good and evil. Confusing the two is highly dangerous and damaging. We know that our loving God is calling us to help build God’s kingdom of peace, harmony, and wholeness. May we continue to do that, with God’s grace.

Our Collect for today is a wonderful help. O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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