• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • 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:…

Epiphany 2A January 19, 2020

Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-12
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

This sermon will be shorter in order to allow time for our annual meeting.

In our first reading, the prophet known as the Second Isaiah is proclaiming God’s good news to God’s people. God is going to bring the exiles home. God’s servant is not only Isaiah but the entire nation of God’s people. All of God’s people are going to become a light to the whole world, and the message of God’s love is going to be extended to all people. Passages such as this are the basis for Archbishop Tutu’s statement that “God has a big family.” God’s family includes everyone.

In our gospel, John the Baptist is telling everyone that Jesus is the Savior. Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus, and he asks them what they are looking for. They answer “Rabbi,” addressing him as a teacher, and he responds, “Come and see.” One of them is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. These two men stay with Jesus and learn from him that day. By the end of the day, Andrew goes to his brother, Simon Peter, and says, “We have found the Messiah.” Andrew takes Simon Peter to Jesus, who takes one look at this man, sees deeply into his spirit, and says, “You are Simon, son of John. You are to be called Cephas,” meaning Peter.  Like Paul who came after him, Simon’s transformation is so profound that he receives a new name. He will be the leader of the apostles.

In our epistle, Paul is writing to the followers of Jesus in Corinth. He begins his letter by emphasizing the many gifts God has given the people in that community. This is true of every community of people following Jesus.

Peter and Paul both realized what Isaiah had said several centuries before them—that God loves all people and that the good news of Jesus is for all people all around the world.

Our collect for today tells us that Jesus is the light of the world. And then our collect carries forward the concept presented by Isaiah, that  we, God’s people, illumined by God’s word and sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory. In other words, we are praying that we, you and I, lighted up and inspired by the scriptures we are reading today and the sacrament of Christ’s presence which we will be sharing, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s risen presence, and that we may spread his light and love everywhere we go.

This is a wonderful prayer. As we share the light and love of Christ, we often do that more by attitudes and actions than by words. As we follow our Lord, we find that he is transforming us just as he transformed Peter and Paul and Mary Magdalene and Teresa of Avila and so many others.

In his address to the 79th General Convention on July 4, 2018, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry described what happened when people got to know Jesus. Bishop Curry says, “They found themselves loving the way Jesus loved, giving the way Jesus gives, forgiving the way Jesus forgives, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly just like Jesus.” As Bishop Curry says, “If it’s about love, it’s about God. If it isn’t about love, it isn’t about God.”

Lord Jesus, give us your grace that we may continue to share your light and love.  Amen.

Epiphany 2A RCL January 15, 2017

Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-12
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

Our first reading comes from the prophet known as the Second Isaiah. Like Jeremiah, he had a sense that he was called by God from the time he was in the womb. We also were called by God to be God’s own beloved from the time we were in our mother’s womb.

God tells Isaiah that God is going to bring the people home from their exile in Babylon. This is wonderful news of great hope. But then God adds something that is almost mind-shattering: God is calling not only Isaiah but all of God’s people to be “a light to the nations, so that [God’s] salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” This includes us as people of God. We are called to be a light to the world, sharing the gifts of faith, hope, and love with all the people we meet.

As we turn to our epistle for today, I think of Herbert O’Driscoll, who points out that, if St. Paul has to give both bad news and good news, he always begins with the good news. The church in Corinth has some dire problems. Some people think that they know more than other people and they are trying to force others to think the way they do instead of engaging in respectful dialogue. Some people think the gifts God has given them, particularly the gift of speaking in tongues, are superior gifts and people who have that gift should be able to lord it over others. Some other teachers have come in and told the people that Paul is an inferior teacher who does not know what he is talking about, and people should follow these new teachers. One of these is named Apollos.

Paul is going to have to help the people deal with these issues, which are tearing their community apart, and he will deal with them by writing a letter full of some of the most important theology in the Christian tradition, teachings that are as fresh and essential today as they were back then in the first century. But first, he centers his letter where it should be centered—in Christ and in all the gifts our Lord has given the church in Corinth. Throughout the entire letter, he will emphasize that what is important is our Lord, his presence among us and the gifts he gives us. First Corinthians is a wonderful letter full of wisdom. We will be reading selections from this letter for the next several weeks.

In our gospel, John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and he describes our Lord as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. From this passage comes our solemn chant, Agnus Dei. John is absolutely sure that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior. The next day, John again calls Jesus the Lamb of God, and two of John’s disciples follow Jesus. If John, their teacher whom they love and trust, is saying that this is the Savior, they want to be close to him. They want to see what he is about. They want to learn from him. I think they had hoped to follow him quietly and stay near him and learn something.

But Jesus turns around and sees them. He is so matter-of-fact. “What are you looking for?” he asks them. They answer with great respect: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” This may sound like a strange question and maybe they are a bit flustered and it’s the first thing they can think of to blurt out, but the fact is that they want to follow him. Their own teacher, John, has pointed out that this is the Savior. Why wouldn’t they want to follow him? Jesus says, “Come and see.”

Come and see. What an invitation. Just come and hang out and see what’s happening. So they go with Jesus and the disciples and stay the whole day. It gets to be about four in the afternoon, and we find out who one of these two men is. It’s Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

Now, Andrew does something that is tremendously important: he goes to his brother Simon and tells him, “We have found the Messiah.” A simple, down to earth statement. Then Andrew brings Simon to Jesus. Andrew, this quiet brother, brings Simon to Jesus. And Jesus names him Cephas, which means Peter.

We all know that Jesus later chose Peter to be the leader of the apostles. But what if his brother Andrew had not realized that Jesus was the Savior? What if Andrew had not gone to tell Peter about Jesus?

Andrew is a quiet person, but he pays careful attention to everything.

Later, when Jesus is being followed by a huge crowd and it is late and the people are hungry, Jesus asks the disciples if anyone has any food. It is Andrew who has made a connection with a little boy who has five loaves and two fish. Andrew is quiet and aware, and he connects people with each other so that good things can happen.

Peter is more demonstrative—he jumps into the water when he sees Jesus coming across the lake and begins to sink; he denies Jesus three times but then accepts Jesus’ forgiveness and renews his commitment on the shores of the lake after Jesus is risen; Peter is fiery and emotional, but he is also the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Here we have the story of how his quiet brother Andrew helps Peter to connect with our Lord, the Light of the world.

And that is what we are called to do—to listen and be aware, and live our faith, and help people to connect with Jesus because they see a glimpse of his life and love in us. Thank God for the connectors in this world, people like Andrew who bring people together, who find a little boy who is willing to share his lunch so that a crowd can be fed; people like Andrew who bring people to Christ. May we follow his example.  Amen.

 

Epiphany 2 Year A RCL January 19, 2014

Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-12
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

Our first reading this morning is from the Second Servant Song of Isaiah. God has called God’s servant Israel since the time the servant was in his mother’s womb. This is very similar to the prophet Jeremiah’s story. God has called us from the beginning of time and God will love us for all eternity.

The Servant is to call God’s people home from exile. But God gives the Servant a much larger mission—to call all of God’s people, to be a light to all nations.

As the people of God, we are called to welcome all people into what Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls “God’s big family.”

Paul is writing to the congregation he founded in Corinth. This faith community is having some serious problems. There are factions in the church. Some members are claiming to have superior knowledge and special spiritual gifts. There is even sexual immorality.

Paul reminds the congregation of their identity as children of God and followers of Jesus and reminds them that, no matter how many challenges they may face, God will give them the strength to meet those challenges.

In our reading from John’s gospel, John the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples.  Jesus walks toward them. John identifies Jesus as the Messiah. John makes it clear that Jesus is one who is greater than he, the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit

The next day, John is again with standing with two of his disciples. Jesus walks by. Again, John says that Jesus is the Lamb of God. So the two disciples follow Jesus. Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for?”

These are two disciples of John the Baptist. John has a huge following. At this point, he is far better known than Jesus. Thousands of people are flocking to him to be baptized because they see the need for repentance, transformation in their lives, a shift that will bring them closer to God.

But now John is telling these disciples of his that Jesus is the messiah. They are probably overwhelmed and confused. They want to learn more about Jesus. Maybe they think they can quietly tag along and hang out with Jesus and learn what he has to say. But now Jesus is asking them this question, “What are you looking for?” And they are thinking, “Our teacher, John, says this is the messiah. The messiah has just asked us a question.” How could we possibly have conversation with the Savior of the world? They are nervous, probably even scared. They are in awe of Jesus.

They address him as “Rabbi,” meaning “Teacher,” a term of great respect, but this is the messiah. How do you address the messiah, the Savior? They don’t know what to say, so they ask, “Where are you staying?” They are drawn to Jesus. They want to be with him.

And he says, “Come and see.” They spend the day with him. Imagine what that must have been like, sitting at his feet and absorbing his presence, his love, his healing, and his teaching. Now we find out that one of the two is Andrew, Simon’s brother. It is four o’clock. The evening is drawing near. Andrew goes and finds Peter and tells him, “We have found the messiah!” Think what this must have meant to Peter and Andrew.

Andrew brings Peter to Jesus, and Jesus says, “You are Simon, son of John, You are to be called Cephas, Peter.”

God calls all people to come to the light, God calls all people to be a part of God’s big family. Like John the Baptist and Andrew, we are called to bring people to Jesus. We are called to help people to meet and experience Jesus. How do we do this?

We can bring friends to church. We can tell people how we get strength from the presence of Jesus in our faith community. We can share our experiences of how Jesus has led us through the thickets of life and gotten us to the still waters of peace and love. We can sit and listen, just listen, not even say anything. We can share the gifts of faith and love and listening and healing, and by doing those things, we are helping folks to be in the presence of our Lord.

John the Baptist and Andrew had the gift of connecting people with Jesus. These are powerful examples for us.

We are all here because we want to follow Jesus. It’s a wonderful journey.

Our journey is similar to that of the Servant in our first lesson. The Servant, embodying the people of God, is called to lead all people to God and to God’s shalom. We are called to lead all people to Jesus, the light of the world, We are called to welcome all people into God’s kingdom, God’s shalom of peace and harmony.

Blessedly, we do not have any of the problems which were plaguing the congregation in Corinth. Nobody here is claiming to have superior knowledge. No one is on a power trip. No one is trying to lord it over others or bully others. We know we are far from perfect, but our morals and ethics are strong. We have much to be thankful for.

May we follow the example of John the Baptist and Andrew. May we lead others to Jesus. May we share his light and love.  Amen.