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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion August 21, 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 August 28, 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 September 4, 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:…

Christmas 2 Year C  January 2, 2022

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Psalm 84:1-8
Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a
Luke 2:41-52

Our first reading today is extraordinary. The people of God have been conquered by the Babylonian Empire. Their leaders and thousands of the people have been deported to Babylon. Some people are left in Jerusalem, including the prophet Jeremiah, but he is in an awkward position, to say the least. Herbert O’Driscoll observes, “His warnings about foolish political decisions by the rulers of his nation [have] made it possible for them to label Jeremiah as an enemy of  his own people,” (O’Driscoll, The Word among Us, p. 53.)

Of this passage, Walter Brueggemann writes,
“The exile of Israel smells of defeat, despair, and abandonment. Moreover, it is a place of deadly silence. All the voices of possibility have been crushed and nullified. …The deadliness of exile is the context into which Jesus is born and in which Christmas is celebrated. Christmas is an act against exile.” (Brueggemann, Texts for Preaching,  p, 76.)

Into this situation of hopelessness and despair, God calls Jeremiah to  powerful words of hope. God is going to bring the people home, those who are strong and those who are weak, even those who are in labor, bringing new life into the world as they journey toward home. God is going to free the people and they will come home and they will “sing aloud” and “be radiant over the goodness of the Lord.” The people and the land will be full of new life and abundance.

In our world, twenty-six hundred years later, the Covid numbers are rising again. Flights are being cancelled because pilots and crew members are sick. Hospitals are being overwhelmed. And at the same time, God is calling us to be a people of hope. God is going to continue to guide us on this journey, and God is going to take care of us.

In our reading from the letter of the Ephesians, God reminds us that God is our divine parent. God holds us close in God’s loving arms.

The lectionary offers us three choices for gospel readings. One is the story of the wise men coming to pay homage to Jesus. The second is the flight into Egypt, and the third is the account of the twelve year old Jesus in the temple.

Mary and Joseph were faithful Jews. Every year they would go to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the feast that marks God’s freeing of the people from slavery in Egypt. They traveled to Jerusalem with their extended family caravan. We do not know the exact number of people making the journey, but it was a sizable group.

They went and worshipped, and then they headed home. At the end of the first day of the journey homeward, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with the family group. We may think this was unusual, but young people would often walk with one relative or another, an uncle they liked to talk to, or an aunt who made good snacks, and the family took care of each other’s children. But when they stopped for the night and took attendance, so to speak, they discovered Jesus was missing.

Mary and Joseph rushed back to Jerusalem to find him. It took them three days, searching high and low, probably going back to the inn where they had stayed and trying to trace his whereabouts and asking people whether they had seen Jesus. As time went by, Mary and Joseph became more and more worried. We can all understand that.

Finally, they went back to the temple, and there he was, talking with the teachers, listening, asking questions, gaining knowledge, and demonstrating exceptional wisdom. Mary was angry. “Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been worried sick about you.”

Jesus responds,”Why have you been worried about me? Don’t you know that I have to be in my Father’s house?” On some quite profound levels, Mary knew that she was Jesus’ biological mother and Joseph knew that he was the foster father of the son of God. But to hear him say this must have struck their hearts very deeply. The text says that they did not understand what he was saying.

What if we were Mary or Joseph? Would we understand such a thing? The text tells us that “Mary treasured these things in her heart.” It took her a lifetime to absorb the meaning of this. Jesus went home and was obedient to them, and he grew in his understanding of what his heavenly Father was calling him to do.

Once again, I am struck by the humanness of Jesus’ coming among us. Things are not going well in our world. The pandemic is rearing its head. And God sends hope. God, fully human and fully divine, comes quietly into the world and lives in a family in Nazareth with a faithful mother and father and goes to the temple for Passover and stays and learns from the teachers. He doesn’t understand that his earthly parents would be worried because he is doing what he is called to do. Kids can be like that sometimes.

But he goes home with them and works in his foster father’s shop and studies with the local rabbi and listens for the guidance of his heavenly Father. In eighteen years he will begin his public ministry.

In our collect we ask God to give us the grace to “share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity.” He has come to be with us to show us the way of hope in the midst of the exile of pandemic life, to show us the way of love in a world that needs so much love. And in our gospel for today, we see him at a session of what in our tradition might be confirmation class! 

May we continue to learn from him. May we continue to grow closer to him. May we share his hope and love in our community of faith and in the world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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