• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • 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 20 Proper 23B October 10, 2021

Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

Our first reading today is a continuation of the story of Job. He has lost all his livestock and his children, and his body is covered with sores, so he is carrying a diagnosis of leprosy, which makes him ritually unclean and basically an outcast.

Three so-called friends have come to visit him, and they have all revealed that they are very bad theologians. Job has just heard from his friend Eliphaz that he must have done something really awful in order to be suffering such tragedies.

Back in Biblical times, as we will recall, people believed that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. This is what Job’s friend Eliphaz believed. The logical conclusion is that if bad things are happening to us, it is because we are bad. That simply isn’t true. We all have friends who have gone through terrible trials and tribulations, even though they are loving and caring people. And, of course, our Lord went to the cross, and we know that he was entirely good. 

Job wants to talk with God; he wants to lay the facts before God so that God can see that he is not an evil person. But he can’t find God. No matter where he turns, God is not there. God is absent. The famous mystic, John of the Cross, called such experiences the “dark night of the soul.”

Job has been very close to God all his life. For him to feel so far away from God must have added to his suffering.

The belief that we must have done something bad if we are undergoing tragedy is still alive in our culture. We receive a cancer diagnosis and we wonder what we did to deserve this, or what we did wrong. One of our children has a sports injury, is prescribed opiates, becomes addicted to these medications, and we are sure we are terrible parents.

We live in a fallen creation. Bad things happen to good people. Job would like to talk with God about this.

In our reading from Hebrews, we have a powerful response to suffering. The writer rings out the good news: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, but without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

When tragedies strike us, when the going gets tough, when we feel overwhelmed, we can turn to One who has been through it all. Jesus has taken all kinds of abuse and suffering which he did not deserve, and that is what the cross means. He suffered the worst that hate can muster, an ignominious death on an instrument of torture, and, to paraphrase Barbara Brown Taylor, he took all of that inside himself and labored with it until he could give it back to us as life.

So, when we are suffering, we can turn to him; we can be sure that he understands what we are going through, and we can know that he is right here with us, going through it with us. We are never alone. The cross erases any thought that bad things happen only to bad people.

In our gospel for today, a man comes up to Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life. First of all, an inheritance is a gift, so the man’s question is rather unusual. The man has followed the law all his life. Jesus looks at this man, and the text says that Jesus loved him. Jesus is able to see that this man’s wealth has become his identity, and that his dependence on his wealth has become his whole life, so much so that the man will never be able to let God into his life. So he tells the man to get rid of that obstacle, sell all that he has, give the money to the poor, and then come and follow him with total trust in God. The man is not able to follow our Lord’s guidance. 

Wealth can get in the way of giving our lives to God. If we have a great deal of wealth, it gives us power, and, for some people, that power and wealth get in the way of being faithful to God and following Jesus. In the kingdom of Jesus, many who are first will be last, and many who are last will become first.

This year, I am deeply touched by our collect. “Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works….” Each of us is surrounded by God’s grace in every moment of our lives.

In Celtic theology, there is the concept of encompassing. God’s love and grace encompass us. We are surrounded by God’s love and grace. If we are going through a difficult time, if bad things are happening, our Lord is with us, leading and guiding us. God’s grace is preceding and following us, surrounding us.

As John of the Cross told us, there may be times when we do not feel the presence of God, and in those times we can know that though we cannot feel God’s presence, God is there with us, Jesus is there to lead us to the still waters, and the Holy Spirit is there to give us the strength to accept God’s love and grace and to take the next step. And the next. And the next. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: