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    • 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:…

Lent 3 Year A March 19, 2017

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 95
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5-42

In his meditation for the first week in Lent, Brother Mark Brown described the forty days of Lent as an opportunity for Jesus to absorb God’s love. In the gospel of Mark, God says to Jesus, “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased. I delight in you.”

Lent is also a time for each of us to absorb God’s love for us. This Lent, I am inviting us to focus on the gospel for each Sunday because each of these gospel accounts shows us Jesus meeting someone, and each of these encounters shows Jesus’ love for the people he meets.

This Sunday, we have an extraordinary story of Jesus’ understanding and love for us. Our Lord is in Samaria. As we know from the famous parable of the Good Samaritan, the people of Samaria were viewed as inferior. They did not worship in the right way or in the right place. Yet Jesus is going into their territory because he loves everyone and he wants to reach out to everyone.

Jesus comes to Jacob’s well. He is tired. He sits down to rest. A Samaritan woman comes to the well to draw water. Jews did not share  things in common with Samaritans. Rabbis did not speak with women. Yet Jesus asks this woman for a drink.

The woman asks Jesus how he can think of asking her for a drink? Doesn’t he know about proper customs and manners? And then Jesus does the same thing he did with Nicodemus. He throws her a mystery. If you knew how much God loves you and who I am, you would ask me for living water.

Now the woman is really interested. Living water? Maybe I would’t have to come to this well every day and lower this bucket and lug it back home and do the same thing several times a day.

But then she wonders, “You don’t even have a bucket. Where do you get this living water?”  She is beginning to wonder if this man is either crazy or greater than even Jacob. Then Jesus makes another quantum leap of the mind and spirit. “When we drink this water, we get thirsty again. But the living water that I give gushes up to eternal life.”

The woman wants that living water. Jesus asks her to call her husband and come back. This touches upon a very delicate issue, The woman has had five husbands and she is living with a man to whom she is not married. In the eyes of the average person, she is looked down upon. She is not considered very respectable. Jesus knows all this, but these outward things are not important to him. He loves this woman. In his actions to her and to all of us, he is saying, “You are my beloved child.”

I think the woman senses this. Jesus is God walking the face of the earth. He has reached across so many barriers to talk with this woman, barriers of race and religion and custom. She can sense the love in all these actions. When we know that God loves us, we can be honest about even the most painful things in our lives. She tells the truth, “I have no husband.” Jesus tells her that he knows her situation.

Now this woman is thinking that Jesus must be a prophet. She asks him about a burning theological issue. The proper place to worship is the temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritans do not worship there. So she asks this prophet, this highly respected expert, “Where should we worship?” Jesus says that we should worship in spirit and in truth. Where we worship is not the important thing. Are we worshipping the spiritual reality of God and God’s love?

Now the woman makes a quantum leap. Maybe this man is more than a prophet. She begins to talk about the messiah. He says that is who he is. He tells her she is speaking face to face with the messiah.

This wonderful courageous woman who has just had a conversation with the Savior drops her bucket, runs into the city, and proclaims the Good News. She becomes the first preacher of the gospel.

And what does she tell the people? Come and see a man who told me everything I have done.” Come and meet with our God who comes down to our level, who knows all our strengths and weaknesses, knows all the secrets we are afraid to share, knows all the things that make us the most ashamed, and loves us with a love that nothing can stop, nothing can change.

Back in those days, a woman was supposed to be married, That is how she achieved an identity in the society—as a wife and a mother. She was not supposed to live with a man who was not her husband. Many people of that time would consider her a terrible sinner. God does not see her in that way.  When God calls Samuel to go to the home of Jesse and anoint the next king, God reminds Samuel that God does not see as humans see. God looks at each of us and says exactly what God said to Jesus at his baptism, “You are my beloved. I delight in you.”

In her dialogue with Jesus, this woman did a self-examination and made a confession to Jesus. She was honest. I think she was able to be honest because she sensed the love and respect of our Lord. As we do our work of self-examination, repentance, and metanoia, transformation, this Lent, our awareness of God’s love helps us to know that whatever we need to confess to God and work on with God’s help is going to be received with caring and forgiveness and encouragement, not condemnation.

This woman brought many people to meet Jesus. Her encounter with our loving and healing God welcomed many others to experience God’s love and forgiveness. May we, too, experience and share God’s love. Amen.

Lent 1 Year A March 5, 2017

 

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

In our Five Marks of Love Lenten series, Brother Mark Brown of the Society of St. John the Evangelist has a meditation called, “You Are My Beloved.” Brother Mark reminds us that, according to Mark’s gospel, when Jesus was baptized, God spoke to him, saying, “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased. I delight in you.” Brother Mark goes on to say that Jesus’ journey of forty days in the wilderness gave him time to absorb the reality of God’s love for him.

I was happy to read this meditation because I had been having similar thoughts. During those forty days, Jesus was absorbing the depth and breadth of God’s love for him. His entire ministry was rooted and grounded in God’s love. Every word and action of Jesus during his entire ministry poured out God’s unconditional love.

We know that Lent is a time of self-examination. We take an honest look at our lives. We confess our sins. Sins are those things that get between us and God, between us and others, and between us and our true selves. We humbly confess our sins. And we ask God to give us grace so that we can grow, so that we can become more like our Lord Jesus. And we thank God for the areas of grace and love in our lives, times when we have followed the Ten Commandments, and the cardinal and theological virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope, and love.

Lent is a time for growth, a time to allow God to give us the grace to take our next steps in our spiritual growth.

In order to do this, we need to accept and absorb God’s love. God loves you. God loves me. Not because of anything we have done, but simply because God loves us. God is saying to us what God said to Jesus, “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased. I delight in you”

For many of us, perhaps most of us, accepting the sheer fact of God’s unconditional love is extremely difficult. How can God, who knows all our faults, all our frailties, all our mistakes and weaknesses, love us unconditionally? If we are parents or grandparents, or loving aunts and uncles, or if we have a beloved pet, we can begin to understand this. God knows we are far from perfect, and God loves us with the wild abandon of a mom or dad, a grandparent, or a devoted owner of a pet. God loves us without reservation. God loves you and me with all God’s infinitely big heart. Each of us is and all of us are the apple of God’s eye.

Yes, but—Lent is a time for penitence, a time to look at our sins in their stark reality, confess them, express our sincere sorrow about them, and ask God’s grace to grow closer to God.

That is true. Lent is a time for growth and transformation. But our journey of transformation becomes much easier and much more joyful the more we are able, with God’s grace, to accept the fact that God loves us, sins and all, warts and all, with a love that will forever boggle our minds. God is here right now to help us blundering, bumbling humans to grow into the fullness of the persons God calls us to be.  So, I am encouraging us to spend some time this Lent accepting and absorbing the fact that God loves you no matter what. God will never stop loving you, and God is here to help you.

As we accept God’s love, we are of course called to share that love. The Five Marks of Love tell us what we are called to be doing and are already doing, with God’s help.

 

  • Proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom (Tell);
  • Teach, baptize, and nurture new believers (Teach);
  • Respond to human need by loving service (Tend);
  • Transform unjust structures, challenge violence of every kind, and pursue peace and reconciliation (Transform);
  • Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth (Treasure).

Yes, we are frail and fallible humans, and it is important for us to take stock of our lives and, with God’s help, do any course corrections which may be needed. But, as Brother Mark reminds us, we are also members of the risen body of Christ, called to share his love, healing, and forgiveness in a broken world. Each of us is beloved by God.

May we accept his love. May we absorb his love. May we share his love with others.  Amen.