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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion June 4, 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:…
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    • 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:…

All Saints Year A November 1, 2020

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

Our sermon today will  be brief because we will be having reports from our delegates to Diocesan Convention.

Today, we celebrate All Saints Day. We remember that we are part of that great cloud of witnesses, the faithful saints who have followed Christ throughout the centuries. Because of God’s love, we are knit together as members of the Body of Christ, each of us using our God-given gifts to spread the love of God to everyone we meet. 

In today’s gospel, our Lord gives us the beatitudes, the blueprint for living lives of faith, hope, and compassion, bringing comfort to those who mourn, feeding our brothers and sisters both physically and spiritually, extending God’s mercy, peace, and justice, working to bring in God’s kingdom in which the creation is restored and the dignity of every human being is respected. 

Today, we celebrate the lives of our Capital S saints such as Patrick and Mary, Francis and Teresa of Avila. and our small s saints, ordinary people like you and me who followed Jesus. The saints come from all walks of life, from all over the world. They have a variety of gifts. They are shining examples of people who have followed Jesus and helped to build his kingdom.

This Tuesday is Election Day, and, as you know, the election has been going on for several weeks. We are facing many very important issues: the Covid pandemic; an economy that has been affected by that pandemic, causing severe hardship to many people; political division; and our long history of racism. I’m sure many of you have already voted. If you have not, please do exercise your privilege to cast a ballot.

This is a time of great stress. I encourage you to pray. And I ask you to focus on those three precious gifts from God: faith, hope, and love. May we have faith that God will guide our minds and hearts to make sound choices in our voting; may we have hope that God will guide us to choose wise and faithful leaders, May we be rooted and grounded in God’s love in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Prayer “For an Election,” p, 822.

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our prayers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And now, we will have our Convention reports by Beth, Lori, and Jean.

Epiphany 6A   February 16, 2020

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Psalm 119:1-8
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Matthew 5:21-37

Our readings today cover so much important spiritual territory that we could literally spend a week-long retreat praying and reflecting on them.

In our lesson from Deuteronomy, Moses has brought the people to the boundary of the promised land, but he is not going to be able to lead them into that land. He is trying to teach them everything they need to know in order to be faithful to God and to each other on the next part of their journey.

Moses tells the people, “I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.” Then he calls them to “Choose life.” Scholars tell us that when Moses, speaking for God, tells us that, if we follow God’s law to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves we will have life and prosperity, he does not mean material wealth, but rather a quality of life in a community based on love, respect for the dignity of every human being, compassion, and justice. When we choose life, we are choosing a way of life that makes it possible for everyone in the community to flourish.

In our epistle, Paul is once again trying to teach the congregation in Corinth to be a community like the one Moses is describing, a community where everyone loves God and each other, where every person’s gifts are celebrated and appreciated, a community that is one as Jesus and God and the Spirit are one.

Our gospel for today is a continuation of the Beatitudes. Jesus is elaborating on the meaning of the commandment to love God and each other. He is trying to help us understand not only the literal meaning but also the spiritual meaning of the commandments.

We all know we are not supposed to murder any one. But what about the kind of murder we can do with sharp and hurtful words, or gossip? We are called to love each other. If we are angry with someone, we are called to reconcile with them.

Then Jesus addresses the issue of adultery. Back then, a woman could be stoned for committing adultery. A man could divorce his wife for a trivial reason, such as, he didn’t like her cooking. She would be thrown out on the street, and, if she didn’t have a male relative to take care of her, she would be homeless. Jesus calls us not to look upon each other as objects, but to realize that every one of us is a child of God.

Then our Lord addresses the issue of swearing to tell the truth in formal circumstances such as taking an oath in court. He makes it clear that he is calling us to tell the truth all the time.

All of this reminds me of a wonderful book by one of my heroes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I think he is probing one of your heroes as well. The book is called God Has a Dream. It was published in 2004, but it speaks to us just as eloquently sixteen years later as it did back then.

He writes, “When, according to the Christian faith, we had fallen into the clutches of the devil and were enslaved by sin, God chose Mary, a teenager in a small village, to be the mother of His Son. He sent an archangel to visit her. I envision it happening like this.

Knock knock.

‘Come in.’

‘Er, Mary?’


‘Mary, God would like you to be the mother of His Son’

“What? Me? In this village you can’t even scratch yourself without everybody knowing it. You want me to be an unmarried mother? I’m a decent girl, you know. Try next door.”

If she had said that, we would have been up a creek. Mercifully, marvelously, Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word,’ and the universe breathed a cosmic sigh of relief, because she made it possible for our Savior to be born.

“Mary was a poor teenage girl in Galilee and reminds us that transfiguration of our world comes from even the most unlikely places and people. You are the indispensable agent of change. You should not be daunted by the magnitude of the task before you. Your contribution can inspire others, embolden others who are timid, to stand up for the truth in the midst of a welter of distortion, propaganda, and deceit.”

Archbishop Tutu continues, “God calls us to be his partners to work for a new kind of society where people count, where people matter more than things, more than possessions; where human life is not just respected, but positively revered; where people will be secure and not suffer from the fear of hunger, from ignorance, from disease; where there will be more gentleness, more caring, more sharing, more compassion, more laughter; where there is peace and not war.

And he continues, “Our partnership with God comes from the fact that we are made in God’s image. Each and every human being is created in this same divine image. That is an incredible, a staggering assertion about human beings.” He goes on to say, “You don’t have to say, ‘Where is God?’ Every one around you—that is God.” (Tutu, God Has a Dream, pp. 61-63.)

Every one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is a beloved child of God. Every one of us is an alter Christus an “other Christ.”  Every one of us, every human being, is a spark of the divine fire of love and light. This awareness is at the heart of our call to follow Jesus and to create the kind of community and the kind of world he calls us to create.

We are made in God’s image, and we are human. We are frail and fallible. We need God’s help. That is why we gather to pray and to be with God and Jesus and the Spirit in a special way. Because we need to rely on God’s grace and guidance.

May we choose life, life rooted and grounded in the love of God. May we follow Jesus and live the Way of Love. May we be enlivened by the Holy Spirit, who energizes us to love others as God loves us. Amen.

All Saints’ Sunday Year A RCL November 5, 2017

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3: 1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

All Saints is one of the most meaningful  and joyful feasts of the Church Year.

Our opening reading from the Book of Revelation shows us the vision of heaven including all those who have followed their Good Shepherd into eternal life. They are in his presence forever.

Psalm 34 is one of the most beautiful songs of praise in the Bible. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him.”

Our very brief but powerful reading from the First Letter of John describes the results of God’s love for us. We are God’s children now, and we are growing into the likeness of Christ. The text tells us that “We will see him as he is.” This gives us deep hope that reaches down into the springs of spiritual freshness.

And then we have the vision of life which our Lord describes in his Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, and those who hunger and thirst for a right relationship with God. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart, those who are able, by God’s grace, to focus with single mindedness on the love of God and what that love calls us to do and to be.

We are all one in Jesus our Lord. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses—those who have gone before us, those who are here now, and those yet to come, all followers of Jesus. We are all part of what our Presiding Bishop calls the Jesus Movement. And we are all deeply blessed. Amen.

Now we will hear reports on our Diocesan Convention — “Declaring Dignity.”

Epiphany 5A RCL February 5, 2017

Isaiah 58:1-9a. (9b-12)
Psalm 112:1-9 (10)
1 Corinthians 2:1-12. (13-16)
Matthew 5:13-20

This sermon will be short because we have Annual Meeting today.

In our opening reading, from the prophet Isaiah, the people of God are saying that they fast and humble themselves, but God does not seem to acknowledge what they are doing. God tells them that they are performing religious observances, but their actions in their daily lives do not reflect a sincere faith. The people fast, but they are oppressing their workers and they are fighting with each other. God tells the people that the real spiritual observance is to create a just society, free people from any and all kinds of bondage, share food with the hungry and clothes with the naked. When we live our faith, God is with us. When we do not live our faith, we separate ourselves from God.

In today’s gospel, Jesus has just given the Beatitudes. Now he is telling us that we are the light of the world. He says that he has come to fulfill the law and the prophets. This means that we are called to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is how we spread the light of Christ. The whole purpose of life in Christ is to share his love.

May we be faithful followers of our Lord. May we share his light and love. Amen.

All Saints’ Sunday Year A RCL November 2, 2014

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

This Sunday, we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

Our first reading is from the Book of Revelation, the vision of John on the island of Patmos. In our reading for today, a great multitude of people, from every tribe and nation, worships God. Salvation is open to all who respond to God’s love and mercy.

Special honor is given to those who have gone through the great ordeal Scholars tell us that John was referring to those who had suffered persecution by the Roman Empire, but, over the centuries, the Church has especially remembered all those who have been martyred for their faith. Today, we pray especially for those who have suffered and lost their lives at the hands of Isis.

“They will hunger and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat, for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Our psalm continues the song of praise to God, who is so good to us. Our epistle reminds us that, because of God’s love, we are children of God, as close to God as a child is to its mother or father,

And, finally, in our gospel, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes. The poor in spirit, those who admit their need for God, receive the kingdom of heaven, Those who mourn are comforted. The meek inherit the earth. Those who hunger and thirst for a right relationship with God will be filled. Those who are merciful will receive mercy. The pure in heart, those who seek God with all their heart and soul and mind and strength, will see God. Those who are persecuted for their faith are especially close to God. The beatitudes are a blueprint of the qualities of kingdom people. We are called to be meek, not power-grabbers. We are called to be merciful, not out to climb the ladder of worldly success at any cost. These values are counter to the values of our surrounding culture. But they are the values of our Lord. We are called to follow his example.

We are part of God’s big family. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, those who are here now, those who have gone before us, and those who will come after us. We are knit together in the Body of Christ, which spans all time and all the peoples of the world. We take inspiration from the lives of the saints. And, as the beloved hymn tells us, saints are just folks like you and me. They have run the race before us and they inspire us to do the best we can, with God’s help.

These readings today also serve to remind us that our loved ones who have gone before us are there in heaven with Jesus, with God, with the angels, and with the whole communion of saints in heaven, in eternal light and joy.

May we always be thankful for God’s immeasurable love and for the communion of saints of which we are a part. Amen.

All Saints Sunday Year C RCL November 3, 2013

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

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Daniel. This book is supposedly set in the sixth century B. C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile, but it was actually written during the persecution of the Jews under the notorious tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B. C.

The beasts symbolize four empires that conquered Jerusalem one after another: the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks. The lesson says that “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever.” This book was written to inspire God’s people to persevere in difficult and brutal times. Tyrants rise and fall, but the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Our gospel for today is from Luke—the Sermon on the Plain. In Matthew, it is the Sermon on the Mount, but Luke wants to make it clear that Jesus is on a level with the people, so he offers the Beatitudes from a “level place.”

Matthew has Jesus saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Blessed are those who admit their brokenness and their need for God. Luke has Jesus blessing the poor, not because Jesus thinks it is good or ennobling for people to be poor, but because he is telling us that, no matter what we are enduring, if we have faith in God, we are kingdom people who have genuine joy and hope. Matthew has Jesus blessing the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for his sake. In addition to the poor, Luke has Jesus blessing those who are hungry and those who weep.

These kingdom qualities—being poor in spirit or literally poor, being meek, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers—these are the qualities our society avoids or sneers at. But these are the qualities we are called to admire. These are the qualities of saints.

Each of the four gospels emphasizes different things about Jesus. The Rev. Al Smith of St, James, Essex Junction used to compare the writing of the gospels to eyewitness accounts of an accident at the five corners. He said that, if we had ten eyewitnesses who wrote accounts of just one accident, each one would notice different things and accentuate different aspects, but it would be the same accident.

Matthew tended to spiritualize the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This increased the latitude of the meaning. Even if we are not literally poor, if we are honest, we are all poor in spirit, We all need God’s help. Both Matthew and Luke are conveying the essential truth of Jesus’ description of kingdom people, shalom people. Many commentators point out that the Beatitudes are not commandments. Jesus is not saying, “Be like this.” Either we are like this or we are not.

Shalom people admit our brokenness and our need for God. We allow room for others. We don’t rush to the front of the line. We extend compassion to others. We try, with God’s help, to focus on God with all our hearts and minds. We try, with God’s help, to work for peace and reconciliation.

As many scholars have pointed out, the beatitudes are a complete reversal of the values of life in this world, For the most part, these qualities will not help us to climb the ladder of success or to get ahead in the world’s terms. Kingdom people think about the needs of others, opening literal and figurative doors for others. Letting people in line ahead of us. Sharing God’s abundance of love and healing and food and clothing and shelter, making room for those who may not have the kind of accessibility that we do. I see these values every day here at Grace. As Christians, we are all living into these values.

When he was here on earth, Jesus was creating a new family, a new community of love and healing and reconciliation. When people saw his vision of how the world could be, that vision strengthened their weak knees and set their hearts on fire.

The Letter to the Ephesians was a circular letter that was written to encourage the early Christians who gathered in house churches across the Roman Empire. Commentator Lance Pape writes of these small groups of the faithful centuries ago and asks, “How could they know that when the apostle spoke of the communion of saints it would include a throng of billions stretched across millennia?” (Pape, New Proclamation Year C 2013, p. 217)

We are part of the living, vibrant, Body of Christ. We have been knit together with millions of others into his Body. We are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” the Communion of Saints—those who have gone before us, those who are here now and those who will come after us, from Mary and Joseph, to Paul, to Ambrose of Milan, to Hilda of Whitby, to Teresa of Avila to Jonathan Myrick Daniels, to Pope Francis, to the people we meet in shops or at tea.

We are part of a living Body of people who are living these shalom values which Jesus gave us in his beatitudes. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism. We have had “the eyes of our hearts enlightened.” We have seen his vision of how he wants the world to be, and we are working toward creating that new world.

Loving and gracious God, thank you for the support of this great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. Thank you for your vision of a world brought to wholeness where everyone is loved and respected. Give us the grace to help you build your shalom. In Jesus’ Name,