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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:…

Palm Sunday Year C April 14, 2019

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11
Luke 22:14-23:56

in our first reading, we hear that God’s servant has “the tongue of a teacher, that [he] may sustain the weary with a word.” The servant suffers but is not disgraced.

In our reading from Paul’s letter to his beloved Philippians who are enduring persecution, we have an ancient hymn about Christ.  “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave….”

Jesus calls us to be servants. He calls us to follow the example of the courageous servant described in Isaiah, and, of course, he calls us to follow his example. He emptied himself. And so we are called to empty ourselves. Why do we do this? We empty ourselves so that God’s spirit can come to live within us and so that our every action and thought can be in harmony with God’s will.

Paul prays that we might have the mind of Christ, each of us individually and all of us together as a congregation. Whatever we learn as we relive the events of this day and of Holy Week and Easter, whatever we perceive as our Lord’s call to us, individually and corporately, that is the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ for us includes our intentions, our guiding principles, our motivations for our actions. We are called to pray the prayer of Christ, learn the mind of Christ, and do the deeds of Christ. Individually and corporately, it all begins and ends with love, the love of God in Christ, so freely given. May we empty ourselves that we may receive God’s love, forgiveness, and healing.  Amen.

Palm Sunday Year B  March 25, 2018

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5=11
Mark 14:32-15:39

At the beginning of our service on Palm Sunday, we welcome our King. We throw palms in his path and shout Hosanna, as well we should. Isaiah describes the suffering servant as one who listens to God so that he can “sustain the weary with a word,” and how many times has our King sustained us with his word and presence. Writing to his beloved congregation at Philippi, Paul tells us that our Lord “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,” and humbled himself to the point of suffering death on a cross.

Why would our King do such a thing? Why didn’t he summon a huge army and destroy those who wanted to destroy him?

First, our King knows all too well that empires defeat empires and it goes on and on, endlessly. Earthly power is not the ultimate solution. Yes, sometimes earthly power has to be used, as in World War II when Hitler had to be stopped. But there is another way, and that is the way of love. Our sequence hymn beautifully expresses this.

The only way God could get through to us was to come among us as one of us—someone who grew up the son of a carpenter, truly loved everyone he met, healed and taught many people, and they loved him and followed him, and so have we, and here we are, two thousand years later, still loving him, still following him.

But he made some people very angry, people who had a great deal of power but did not use that power in the way God wanted them to. And they tried to destroy him with the worst they could do. With unwavering courage, he endured their torture. Yes, they killed him.

And here we are, two thousand years later, following him.  Amen.

Palm Sunday Year A  April 9, 2017

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66

Palm Sunday is such a heart wrenching day. We welcome our king, casting palms in his path to honor him, and then we look on in horror as, step by step, he walks the Way of the Cross.

This Holy Week, we will be walking the Way with him as we gather on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Hymn 84 begins with the words, “Love came down at Christmas.” That is true. “Love came down at Christmas,” and now Love is going to pour itself out on the cross. Love is going to take all sin and darkness and brokenness and wrestle with it and labor with it and transform it into new life. He will wash our feet and share a meal with us, a meal which he will give us as a sign of his presence among us. And then, we will stand with his mother Mary at the foot of the cross.

As we walk with our Lord and spend time with him and learn from him and pray with him, we become closer to him. Our diocesan mission statement calls us to “Pray the prayer of Christ, learn the mind Christ, and do the deeds of Christ.” Our reading from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, calls us to “Let the same mind be in [us] that was in Christ Jesus.”

Significant events have happened in the past few days and are continuing to happen. For six years, Syria has been in a humanitarian crisis, and this tragic situation is connected with and surrounded by a web of political alliances and power dynamics. As we walk the Way of the Cross with our Lord this week, I hope and pray that we will seek the mind and will of Christ and that we will follow our Lord as faithfully as we possibly can. Dear Lord, help us to follow where you lead. Help us to seek and do your will.  Amen.

Palm Sunday Year B RCL March 29, 2015

Mark 11:1-11
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11
Mark 14:32-15:39

Today, we welcome Jesus as our King and then we journey with him to his crucifixion. It is a heart-wrenching day, and each year we learn something new about our Lord and about ourselves.

Every Palm Sunday, we read the amazing passage from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Paul wrote this letter from prison, and we know that the congregation in Philippi was suffering persecution.

Our passage begins, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” When Paul says “mind,” he does not mean just the intellect. Charles Cousar writes, “[Our] entire identity—[our] intuitions, sensitivities, imaginations—is to be shaped by the self-giving activity of Christ.”

Jesus upset the secular and religious authorities of his time so much that they felt their only option was to kill him. He also upset many of the ordinary people because they wanted him to conquer the Roman Empire. And so, he was sentenced to one of the most horrific deaths the human mind has ever imagined, a death reserved for the worst criminals. He did not meet violence with violence.

Jesus trusted that God could bring a greater good out of this disaster, and Jesus knew that God loved him and loved everyone of us humans and the whole creation. So Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to that cross.

Twelve step programs have a saying—“Let go, and let God.” When we are in a really tough situation, we let go of our own will and our own plans and thoughts, and we turn the whole thing over to God, knowing that God can do things we could never imagine. That’s what Jesus did on the cross. He suffered agony. He kept trusting in God’s love and power. He forgave those who were doing this awful thing. He died. Like a grain of wheat, he fell into the ground of God’s love.

Sometimes when situations are way beyond anything we can handle, we have to do that. We have to let go and let God. We have to get out of God’s way and let God take over. When we do that, I think we are very close to our Lord. When we do that, we allow God to work.

Amen.

Palm Sunday—April 13, 2014

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Philippians 2:5-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66

Our reading from Isaiah is the Third Servant Song. The servant is called to “sustain the weary with a word.” He is encouraging the exiles in Babylon to have hope, to know that God is with them. Isaiah tells the people that God is more powerful than any empire. As Christians we see our Lord as the suffering servant.

Paul writes, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Paul is calling us to think like Jesus, to model our attitudes and behavior after Jesus’ life.

And then, in the gospel reading, we are with Jesus in the garden, Judas betrays him, Peter denies him. Pilate interrogates him, Barabbas is released, and one horror leads to another. At the end of it all, our Lord is dead.

The Roman Empire used crucifixion to terrify people and keep them under control. Our Lord, who spent his entire life helping people, healing them, teaching them, giving many words to the weary, giving people hope, so terrified the authorities of his time, both secular and religious, that they had to kill him. They had to destroy him because he opened up new ways of thinking, new possibilities that would have threatened their power and domination.

Jesus came to offer a whole new way of living, a way, not of domination, but of compassion and caring. To paraphrase Paul, “Let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus.” This Holy Week, may we focus on the power of Christ’s love. May we follow his example of servanthood. May we help and support others. May we focus on sharing his love, his hope, his encouragement. We are here today because his love is stronger than any earthly power. Amen.