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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion June 11, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.comTime:  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 June 18, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.comTime:  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 June 25, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.comTime:  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:…

All Saints Sunday November 6, 2016

Daniel 7:1-3. 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6: 20-31

Today, we celebrate All Saints Sunday. This sermon will be short so that we can hear from our Convention delegates.

All Saints is a wonderful feast. Our  Collect reminds us that we are all members of the Body of Christ. We are knit together in one fellowship which spans all time. We are part of the Communion of Saints going back into the time of Peter and Paul and Martha and Mary Magdalene and going forward into eternity.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, saints, people just like you and me who loved our Lord and followed him. And, as part of this faithful multitude, we gain strength from their presence so that we can run the race that is set before us.

We are not alone. We do not have to run the race alone. We have help, very strong and good help. We are never alone. Together with the capital S saints such as the folks I mentioned earlier, we have our wonderful small s saints. And here at Grace, as we celebrate the bicentennial of this amazing parish, we can feel them cheering us on—Albert Hopson Bailey, Kate Whittemore, Hoddie, Charlotte, Laura, Harriet, Geraldine, Ruth, Gertrude, Arthur, Gwen, A. J. and Theresa, and all the people who have made Grace Church the faithful, loving, hopeful, and resilient community that it is.

We are not alone. They are all with us, helping us to be faithful to our Lord’s call to love and serve others, here and around the world.

Thanks be to God for this cloud of witnesses! Amen.

Pentecost 20 Proper 22C RCL October 2, 2016

Lamentations 1:1-6
Psalm 137
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

In our first reading today, from the Book of Lamentations, the worst has happened. The Babylonian Empire has conquered Jerusalem. The temple and the city lie in ruins and most of the people have been deported to Babylon.

There were some people who actually remained in Jerusalem and in Judah. Every day they had to look at the rubble and wonder whether the temple would ever be rebuilt.

Others were living among alien people and alien gods who were nothing like their God. Psalm 137, our Psalm for today, captures their immense sadness. “By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept.” Their captives are asking them to sing songs from their native land. But they cannot sing. Their grief is so great. Then their grief turns to anger and revenge, which is natural and understandable, but something God calls us to avoid.

In the middle of the psalm is a prayer for the community to remember Jerusalem and remember their faith. And that is the prayer that prevailed. They used this tragic and terrible period of time to study the scriptures, to increase their commitment to prayer and worship, and to seek God’s guidance.  Jerusalem was leveled in 587 B.C.E. In 539 they returned home to rebuild. Fifty years of exile and spiritual journeying toward deeper faith.

We all have times of exile on our own lives, times when we are in grief, when we feel as though all is lost. We may even feel angry. At such times we need to turn to God for guidance, and we need to remember that God is a God of hope.

In our second reading, Timothy has apparently faced some kind of a major challenge in his ministry. We do not know what that challenge was. Paul reminds him of his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, who nurtured him in the faith. Now, as we celebrate the bicentennial of Grace Church, we are blessed to be gifted with our own parents and grandparents in the faith. The Rev. Albert Hopson Bailey, who served here for 26 years and served our diocese, Kate Whittemore, who led the Women’s Auxiliary and started a junior auxiliary to teach young people about our faith and to support them in doing mission, and then the elder generation whom some of us have known—Hoddie, Charlotte, Laura, Arthur, Gertrude, Harriet, Geraldine, Gwen, and Ruth, to name a few.  We are building on their faith, and that legacy of faith and service supports us in our ministries.

Also in this letter, Paul writes, “…for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but of power and of love and of self-discipline.” The King James version says, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a a sound mind.”

Timothy had been through some difficult things. When we encounter obstacles and challenges, one thing we can do is to become fearful. Many in our nation are becoming very fearful right now. As a very wise person has said, “Faith is fear that has said its prayers.” As Christians, we are called to have faith. And we are called to remember that we have been given a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. We are not called to surrender to fear. We are called  to stay centered in God’s power and love. We are called to have self-discipline and to keep in the center of our hearts and minds that God is the God of faith, love, and hope. Like the exiles returning, we can build and we can rebuild God’s shalom in our world and in our communities.

In today’s gospel, the disciples are making a request: “Increase our faith!”

They are on the way to Jerusalem, and they are probably getting the idea that this journey with Jesus is not going to be easy. I think Jesus is trying to tell them that they have enough faith to do what they are called to do.

Basically he is saying that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can do things we think would be impossible, with his help and with his grace and guidance. And then that mustard seed of faith is going to grow and grow.

After all, the exiles returned and rebuilt the temple, the city, and their community life. Timothy had some moments of apprehension but remained a faithful minister of Christ. The disciples had some less than noble moments—Peter denied Jesus three times, Judas betrayed him, many of them ran to the hills after the crucifixion— but they they came back and there was Pentecost, and they spread the faith all over the world, and our Grace Church saints passed down the faith to us and here we are with our mustard seeds of faith carrying on our ministries here and around the world, part of a faith community which is trying to bring the love and healing of Christ to everyone who needs his presence.

Our readings today are calling us to be people of faith, hope, and love. In our world today, some people are spreading messages of fear, hopelessness, and hate.  As Christian people, we cannot accept such a worldview.

In many of our cities, there is violence. We have not yet fully healed our corporate sin of racism.  We have made progress in healing racism, and, yes,  we have more work to do, but we cannot stop now. We have all kinds of violence, not just shootings and angry mobs of people looting but also the quiet, largely unnoticed epidemic of domestic violence and sexual abuse. And we have an epidemic of addiction.

All of these issues have been going on for a very long time. We just didn’t pay attention to them. We are making progress, and now we have to really get down to work and make more progress. As our dear sister Priscilla would say, “We need to see the glass half full.”

In the eighteen-sixties we began to realize that slavery was wrong. A century later, in the nineteen-sixties, we began to pass things like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act to welcome our African American brothers and sisters to full citizenship. We are well on the way. We are not yet fully there. This is not the time to give up.

Domestic violence has been around since the birth of time, but no one dared to talk about it. Now we are doing something about it. Other forms of violence have also been around for centuries. We have been working on these crucial issues. Our diocesan convention will be a hopeful, faithful, look at that work.

All of these issues are related to the building of God’s shalom of peace and harmony, where everyone has a safe home to live in, food, clothing, medical care, and good work to do. God’s shalom is about peace in our hearts, peace in our communities, and peace in the world.

Let us be a people of faith, hope, and love. We have come a long way. Let us not falter. I believe that our Lord is telling us that what we see as mustard seeds of faith can help him to bring in his shalom. Lord, help us to be a people of faith, hope, and love. Help us to work for your shalom. In your holy Name. Amen.

Pentecost 6 Proper 8C RCL June 26, 2016

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

In our opening reading today, the faithful and courageous prophet Elijah is coming to the end of his life. He has trained Elisha to take over and continue his prophetic  ministry. We look on as Elijah tries to  leave and Elisha, deep in grief, tries to hold on to his beloved mentor.

Finally, Elijah asks his young student what he can do for him. Elijah asks for a double share of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah points out that this is a difficult thing to ask, but if Elisha sees Elijah as he is being taken away, the gift will be granted. Herbert O’Driscoll says that Elijah is asking Elisha to face what is happening and to grow into maturity so that he can take over the mantle of Elijah.

That is exactly what the young Elisha does. He watches carefully, his heart breaking as his mentor is carried into heaven. And then he gets down to business and carries on this important ministry. In a sense, he grows up in a few short, intense moments.

In our epistle, Paul is trying to help the Galatians realize that freedom in Christ does not mean license. In other words, this freedom does not mean that we can do anything we please. Paul reminds them and us that we are called to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything we do must involve loving God and loving others.

We are on a journey from the level of human will and selfishness to the level of spirit, where we grow closer and closer to God and follow Jesus more and more faithfully. On the level of spirit, we become more and more open to God’s grace, and our lives are guided by God.

Paul then draws a contrast. He lists what he calls “the works of the flesh.” Biblical scholar Beverly Gaventa says,”In this lection,…flesh refers to a way of thinking or behaving that is confined to the human sphere, that operates without the guidance of the Spirit of God.” (Texts for Preaching Year C , p. 407.)

Then he lists the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If our lives and our life together in community are governed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, things are going to go much better than if we are operating solely on the human level.

In our gospel, Jesus is setting his face toward Jerusalem. He knows the price he is going to pay. He does not want to go, but he knows he must walk this journey. He does something he has not done before. He sends messengers ahead. We do not know why he does this. But it is a good thing that he does, because there is one Samaritan village that does not want to receive him because he is going to Jerusalem.

Jesus is going to Jerusalem to challenge the status quo on behalf of people like the Samaritans, who are viewed as somehow inferior because of their different religious beliefs and practices, but that fact is lost on the people of this village. James and John want to punish the village, but Jesus says No.  His is the way of compassion. On the cross, he will ask God to forgive deeds worse than that one.

As they travel along, a man offers to follow Jesus wherever he goes. Jesus talks about his own homelessness. Following Jesus is not easy. It demands sacrifices.

Jesus calls a man to follow him, but the man wants to bury his father who has just died. Jesus tells him to let the dead bury the dead. Another man wants to follow Jesus, but he has to go and say good bye to his family. Jesus says that once we put the hand to the plow, we shouldn’t turn back. In these encounters, our Lord is letting us know that following him is not easy. Jesus puts a high value on family, but he is also saying that disciples have to order their priorities.

As I thought about these readings, Elijah passing on the mantle of leadership to Elisha; the Galatians growing up into maturity in Christ and showing the fruits of the Spirit; and our Lord’s comments on the challenges of discipleship, I began to reflect on all the people who have gone before us here at Grace Church.

The Rev. Dr. Albert Hopson Bailey is the longest-serving rector of Grace Church. He was here from May 1865 until February 14, 1891, twenty-six years. His last service here was on February 8, 1891.  Two days later, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and, as Bishop Bissell sadly reported to Convention, he was unconscious most of the time until his death six days later on February 14, 1891.

Frederica Northrop Sargent writes, that he served “in simplicity and Godly sincerity.” She notes that he “compiled the church records and brought them up to date. His foresight in that work is of great, great historical value to the parish.” Dr. Bailey was also the first historiographer of the Diocese of Vermont.

From all the accounts I have read concerning the life and work of Albert Hopson Bailey, he exemplified the fruits of the Spirit.  He was a faithful pastor, and he was especially gifted in explaining the more difficult passages of the Scriptures. Bishop Bissell described him as “one of our most devoted fellow laborers, a most trusted advisor and most loving friend.” For me, Albert Hopson Bailey is one of the heroes of Grace Church.

When we think of Elijah’s mantle being passed on to Elisha, we can think of all the generations of faithful people who, like Albert Hopson Bailey, lived their lives in Christ and passed down to us the legacy of loving and faithful life in community.

May we honor and celebrate this wonderful legacy. May we show forth the fruits of the Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.