• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 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 December 18, 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 December 25, 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 19 Proper 22B October 3, 2021

Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Psalm 26
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Job. Job is a good person of deep faith. He has a loving family and is well off financially. He is respected as a person who is just and compassionate. People seek his counsel. Satan, who in those times was seen as a kind of prosecuting attorney, feels that, if Job had a few challenges thrown his way, his faith would quickly evaporate, and he would curse God.

In the portion of the first chapter which has been omitted, several disasters have already occurred. The Sabeans captured Job’s oxen and donkeys and killed the servants who took care of them; a fire burned up the sheep and the shepherds, and the Chaldeans captured the camels and killed the camel drivers. Worst of all, a huge wind came across the desert, collapsed the house, and killed Job’s seven sons and three daughters.

In our passage for today, Job is stricken with sores that cover his entire body. In those days, such a skin condition was considered to be leprosy, so he is now ritually unclean and an outcast. As we look in on the scene, he is scratching his sores with a piece of broken pottery. His wife encourages him to abandon his integrity, curse God, and die. But Job will not abandon his faith. He says that we have to receive the bad that comes from the hand of God as well as the good.

We will be reading the Book of Job for three more Sundays. Does God send bad things for us to suffer? Just a few weeks ago, we read from the Letter of James, “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”In commenting on this passage, Beverly Gaventa says, “The writer insists that good gifts (and not temptations) come from God.” (Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, p.490.

We live in a fallen creation that is not operating in the way God would want it to operate. God’s shalom is not yet here. We are all working to build God’s kingdom of peace, harmony, and love. In Biblical times, people believed that good things happened to good people and bad things happened to bad people. As Christians, we know that that is not true. All we have to do is to look at the cross.

As we read the Book of Job, we will be asking questions such as, why do some people maintain their integrity even in the midst of hardship and suffering? Why do some people have faith that seems unshakeable?  Why do bad things happen to good people? Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a wonderful book responding to that question. Thus far, Job has lost his children and all of his possessions. He now has leprosy and is an outcast. But he still will not curse God.

In our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, the unknown writer, a person of deep faith, tells us that God has “spoken to us by a Son.”  Of the Son, the writer says,”He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” Jesus, the eternal Word, is God walking among us. The writer wonders why God would even care about us, but we know that God cares so much that God comes among us. The risen Christ is in the midst of us now, leading and guiding us. When we have times of suffering, we can look to him. He went through the worst experience possible, and through that experience he gave us new life. He made us his brothers and sisters.

In our gospel for today, our lord is facing the Pharisees, and they are asking him a question, not because they want to learn, but because they want to trip him up. Back in those times, a man could divorce his wife for something very trivial. She burned the supper or he didn’t like the way she kept house. A woman could not divorce a man even if he beat her. Women and children were chattel, objects, less than human.

Jesus presents an idea of marriage as a relationship between two people, two human beings, who become so close that they are like one flesh. That is the ideal we are all aiming for. However, there are cases in which a person is not able to keep his or her marriage vows. Domestic violence is one instance of this. There are valid reasons for the dissolution of a marriage. In this gospel passage, Jesus is raising marriage to its proper level as a partnership between two precious and beloved human beings. That is revolutionary thinking for his time.

But the next portion of the gospel is also revolutionary. Little children are trying to come to see Jesus. People want Jesus to touch these little ones. In those times, children were chattel, possessions, objects, expendable. Men did not pay attention to children in those times. That was women’s work. Children were considered a nuisance. They were at the bottom of the social scale. The disciples are trying to keep the children away. They are scolding the children.

And Jesus says something that turns the world upside down: “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”

Little children are open, receptive, trusting. That’s how we need to be with God. Open and receptive. Open to God’s love and joy and peace and healing. Listening carefully for the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, calling us, leading and guiding us. Trusting in the power of the Spirit and the grace of God. 

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, lead us to those still waters and those green pastures where we may be still and know that you are God. Give us grace to build your kingdom of love and peace, in the power of the Spirit. In your holy Name we pray. Amen.