• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion February 5, 2023 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 February 12, 2023 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 February 19, 2023 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:…

Christ the King  November 21, 2021

2 Samuel 23:1-7
Psalm 132:1-13
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. We rejoice in the fact that Christ is our King. Our Lord comes from the lineage of David. In our reading from the Second Book of Samuel, we find a description of the good earthly king: “One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.”

Good earthly leaders are people of justice, integrity, and morality.

In our gospel, Jesus tells us that his kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom, his shalom, is the kind of world God wants us to live in, to paraphrase retired Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the shalom of God is a world in which every person is loved and respected, everyone has food, shelter, clothing, health care, and good work to do. Our Lord says, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” He is our Good Shepherd, and we are listening to his voice calling us to help him build his shalom of peace, love, and harmony for everyone.

This is also the week of Thanksgiving. We take time to gather with our families as much as we can in this age of Covid.  We have a wonderful meal with all the dishes our family loves best and we take the time to thank God for all of God’s gifts to us.

Everything we have is a gift from God. From time to time, it’s a good idea to make a Gratitude List—just take a few moments and write down all the gifts God has given us. I can walk, I can talk, I can see, I can hear. I have a roof over my head and clothes to wear. Some of us are retired. All of us have had good work to do. Most of us are doing ministries of service to others. God gives us the energy to do all these things.

In and through all these gifts from God is the greatest gift of all—God’s  unquenchable, unstoppable, eternal, unconditional love for us. God knows us, our weaknesses and our strengths—everything about us— and God loves us with a love that is so big and so deep and so wide that we will never be able to grasp how huge it is.

In gratitude for God’s many gifts to us and for God’s unfailing love and blessings flowing out to us all the time, we return a worthy portion of all of this to God. For those who wish to make a pledge, please do that before the end of the year. Our pledge is our thank you to God for all of God’s blessings. Some of us prefer to give back to God without pledging. That is fine, too.

Our pledge includes the gifts of time, talent, and treasure, which God gives us constantly.  God gives us every moment of our lives. The gift of time. God gives us different talents. And God gives us the ability to earn money, treasure. All of you give generous gifts of time and talent in all kinds of church and community activities. Gifts to charitable organizations such as Episcopal Relief and Development, the Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity are also a part of returning a worthy portion of God’s gifts back to God. In harmony with the theme of Thanksgiving, we are making gifts to UTO, the United Thank Offering, doing the month of November.

One year ago, when we were celebrating Christ the King Sunday, we were not able to be in our church building. We had no vaccine. Governor Scott was announcing that our positivity rate was up to two per cent. As I write this, Vermont’s overall positivity rate is 4.3 per cent. Essex County’s positivity rate is 13.9%; Franklin. 6.99%; Orleans, 6.93%; Chittenden, 2.9%. Our positivity rates are higher. We are in a surge. Governor Scott said this week that 70% of the new cases involve unvaccinated people.

This leads us to a clear reason for gratitude. We have vaccines that work. We have boosters. We are now vaccinating children ages 5 to 11. So, if we are vaccinated, if we  wear our masks, keep social distancing, and pay attention to ventilation, we can be here together, in our building with our friends on Zoom. This year, unlike last year, we are celebrating Holy Eucharist on Christ the King Sunday, and some of us are here in our beloved building. What a blessing!

I am so happy to be here with you all. We have so much to be thankful for.

Hymn 645 is a beautiful hymn which begins, “The King of love my shepherd is.” It is a poem based on the 23rd Psalm. Christ is our King, and he is the King of Love. He is in our midst this very moment, and this includes our brothers and sisters online. He is leading us through this pandemic, through everything, to the green pastures and the still waters. Thanks be to God for God’s unending, amazing gifts.

Amen.

Pentecost 29B November 25, 2018 Christ the King

2 Samuel 23:1-7
Psalm 132:1-13, (14-19)
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

Today, the last Sunday in the season of Pentecost, we celebrate Christ the King. Christ is the One we are following. Christ is the King of our lives.

In our opening reading from the Second Book of Samuel, we reflect on the great earthly king of God’s people, David. He was the youngest of the sons of Jesse, and, when Samuel was called to anoint a new king, David was the last of Jesse’s sons to appear before Samuel. The family had to call him in from taking care of the sheep.

David was deeply loved by the people. With great courage, skill with the sling, and most especially, profound faith, he felled the giant Goliath and saved his people from slavery to the Philistines.

But he was not perfect. Far from it. When he ordered that Uriah the Hittite be sent to the front lines to die in battle so that he could take Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba as his wife, David hit the moral nadir of his life. Yet, when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he was able to admit that, yes, he had done this horrible thing, and he was truly sorry.

In our reading today, the king is described in these words,”One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.” A good ruler is a person of light and brings the light of God to bear on every situation. A good ruler is one whose words and actions are inspired by the Spirit of God. Each of us can think of kings or presidents or other leaders who fit this description, and we can be thankful for such people.

Our reading from the Book of Revelation is a song of praise to our king, and it is a vision of heaven, where the saints and angels gather in peace and joy to sing praises to our Lord. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is eternal, and his love is eternal and unchanging. This is a great comfort in times like ours, when we see so much that is the opposite of our Lord’s kingdom of compassion and peace.

It is helpful, I think to remember that Revelation was written to Christians who were living under oppression from the Roman Empire. For followers of Jesus who could be killed at any time at the whim of an emperor, this book, written in code, was a beacon of hope. The imagery which some people interpret as describing Satan or the Devil, is actually describing the Roman Empire. Our Lord triumphs over all forms of oppression and misuse of power, and that knowledge inspires us as we work to create justice in our own world.

In our gospel, we are with our King as he faces the tyranny of the Roman Empire and of the religious leaders of his time. The passage is full of paradox and many layers of meaning. Pilate asks whether Jesus is King of the Jews. but he is asking the question from a worldly point of view.

Our Lord replies that his kingdom is not of this world. How true that is. In his kingdom the last are first and the first are last. Singer and songwriter Holly Near has a song called “The Meek Are Getting Ready.” She sings about those at the margins “coasting up on empty” and we can envision our King welcoming and embracing the folks he called “the least of these, my brothers and sisters.”

At the end of this reading, Jesus says, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” As we meditate on this powerful statement, we ask ourselves, what does he mean by saying “Everyone who belongs to the truth”? Is he talking about a set of facts? Is he talking about a belief system? Is he talking about truth as a set of logical propositions? What does it mean to “belong to the truth”?

Earlier in John’s gospel, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” Even earlier than that, back in chapter ten, he tells us that he is the good shepherd. He says, “i know my sheep, and my sheep know me.” And he tells us that, when the sheep hear the voice of the good shepherd, they follow that shepherd.

So, Jesus is the truth. His attitude, his way of doing things, his teaching, is our truth. That’s what he means by the concept of belonging to the truth. We belong to him in the sense that he is our good shepherd and we are following him.

Jesus tells Pilate and us, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” We could paraphrase that by saying that every one who belongs to our Lord listens to his voice and follows where he leads. His life, his ministry here on earth, and his love for us, all of that is the truth that we follow.

This is the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, a time to give thanks and share good food and lots of love with family and friends.

And on this Christ the King Sunday, we can be very thankful for our King, our Good Shepherd. He is our living, guiding truth, and we belong to him.

May we always listen for his voice.   Amen.

 

Good Friday April 3, 2015

Isaiah 52:13;53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42

Jesus came among us to assure us of God’s unconditional love for every human being and for all the creation. Everything he did and everything he said breathed out the Spirit of God’s love, forgiveness, and healing. But some of us, especially those in power, could not stand to hear this good news, and it all led to a Cross.

Jesus did the best he could, and it led to a horrific instrument of torture and death reserved for criminals. There are many things he could have done, but he died on that cross.

On Palm Sunday, I said that I think we can see the cross as the ultimate example of what it means to “Let go and let God.” Jesus had done the very best job he could do. There was nothing more he could do. On the cross, he placed his complete trust in God. He took into himself all the rage and hate and evil of the world, and he and God and the Spirit transformed all of it into life and hope.

When we have been facing a situation full of darkness and brokenness and we have done our best, with God’s help, one of the most creative and loving things we can do is to Let go and let God.

We place ourselves, our will and intentions, and the entire situation in God’s loving hands, and we let go of it. Now it is in God’s care. We pray for God’s help for us and for any other people involved, and we leave it in God’s hands. And God takes the situation, with all its darkness and brokenness and transforms it into new life. We will never be able to understand this because we are frail and fallible human beings, but we do not have to understand. We know it because our Lord has lived it and done it. That is why this Cross is at the center of our faith. We can trust God in everything.

Amen.

Last Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 29B RCL

Christ the King Sunday

2 Samuel 23:1-7

Psalm 132:1-13

Revelation 1:4b-8

John 18:33-37

Today is Christ the King Sunday. It is the last Sunday of the season of Pentecost. Next Sunday, we will begin the season of Advent.

Our first reading this morning focuses our attention on the reign of King David. David had some major personal flaws and made some bad decisions, as we do, but he is the ideal of the earthly king. One strength that David had was that, when confronted with his errors, he owned up to them and asked God’s forgiveness. Our reading says, “One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.”

Our king, Jesus, comes from the family of David. This opening lesson places before us Jesus’ ancestral roots and the vision of an earthly king who rules with wisdom and justice.

Our second reading, from the Book of Revelation, gives us John’s vision of heaven. Angels and archangels worship Jesus and God. When John says that Jesus will be coming with the clouds, that is a way of saying that we will all be accountable for how we have lived our lives and how we have used the gifts God has given us.

Here are Herbert O’Driscoll’s words on today’s gospel: “We are seeing the meeting of two empires. Pilate the Procurator embodies the power of Rome. Jesus the prisoner embodies spiritual power….  ‘Are you the King of the Jews’, asks Pilate. The reply he receives must have been startling. ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ It shows no sign of fear or subservience. The question is from equal to equal.”

O’Driscoll goes on to say, “Jesus is saying that he is not interested in being a worldly king but is very much interested in bringing spiritual truth to the world.”

Christ is our King. Hi kingdom is not a material or an earthly kingdom. It is not based on earthly power, yet it has far more power than the Roman Empire or any other empire could ever have.

What does it mean to say that Jesus is our King? Each of us would probably have a different answer to that question.  In some way, beyond out ability to analyze or explain, Jesus has touched our lives. He is someone we want to follow. We have read about his life and ministry in the gospels. We have seen the way he treats each person with infinite love and respect.  We have seen the way in which he has brought healing and wholeness to people, the way he has taught and lived. All of this has made us want to be more and more like him.

This means that we also feel deeply called to help Jesus to build his kingdom, his shalom. Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls this God’s dream for the world. His description of God’s shalom was read to us by Beth a few weeks ago. I would like to bring it again to our minds and hearts.

“I have a dream, God says. “Please help Me to realize it, It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts, when there will be more laughter, joy, and peace, where there will be justice and goodness and compassion and love and caring and sharing.  I have a dream that swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, that My children will know that they are members of one family, the human family, God’s family, My family.

In God’s family, there are no outsiders. All are insiders. Black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, Jew and Arab, Palestinian and Israeli, Roman Catholic and Protestant, Serb and Albanian, Hutu and Tutsi, Muslim and Christian, Buddhist and Hindu, Pakistani and Indian—all belong.

This is the vision of God’s shalom for which we are all working. We are also coming to the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. It is wonderful to see family gathered at this special time.  And I want to thank Frank and Priscilla for putting on a wonderful Thanksgiving feast this past Sunday with special gifts of delicious partridge soup and moose meatballs, thanks to Frank’s skill as a hunter, Gods gracious bounty, and Priscilla’s gifts as a cook. I should probably say chef. Thank you so much. Priscilla has suggested we should do this more often. I think that is a great idea.

Today we focus on Christ as our King and thanksgiving for God’s gifts, including God’s vision of shalom. These are the reasons why we will be doing our United Thank Offering ingathering this Sunday and next, why we will be giving to Episcopal Relief and Development during the Christmas season, and why we will be giving prayerful thought to our response to God’s gifts my making our pledges the next several Sundays.

Lord Jesus, may we make you the king of our lives and our hearts. May we be thankful for your many gifts to us. May we follow you always.

Amen.