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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion August 21, 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 August 28, 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 September 4, 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 2 Year C January 16, 2022

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

Our first reading today is from the prophet we call the Third Isaiah. The people have returned from their exile in Babylon. They have begun rebuilding the temple and the city of Jerusalem.

It has been difficult to go through the exile, but they have kept the faith and maintained their community and now King Cyrus of Persia has conquered the Babylonian Empire and allowed them to return home.

When they arrive back in Jerusalem and begin the rebuilding, they find that it is a challenging task. The Jerusalem temple is one of the largest and most elaborate buildings of its time. The people begin to argue about how to proceed. Tempers flare. Factions develop. We can imagine that they might have thought God had forsaken them.

God reassures them that they are not forsaken. The whole world is going to see their glory. They will be a “crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.” God has not forsaken them, God has been with them through it all and will now help them and guide them as they rebuild, not only the temple and the city, but the fabric of their life together as God’s beloved community. 

Our psalm for today continues the themes of light and love. “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds….How priceless is your love, O God! Your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings….For with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light.”

Our reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is one of the most important and inspiring passages in the Bible. “There are varieties of gifts but the same spirit. and there are varieties of services but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates them in everyone.” Paul envisions the Church as the living, caring, ministering Body of Christ. We all have different gifts, but we are all one in Christ, who gives us these gifts.

We are all ministers by virtue of our baptism. We are here to serve others and share the light and love of Christ. The  Corinthians tended to compare too much. Some of them thought certain gifts were better than others, so Paul is telling them and us that all these gifts and ministries are equally valuable and essential. Gifts of preaching, paying the bills, vacuuming the floors, teaching, plowing the snow in winter and mowing the lawn in summer, working at the food shelf, rescuing dogs, reading lessons, playing the organ, pulling weeds. all of these gifts and ministries are equally valuable and important to the life of the body of Christ, the Church. All of these gifts are gifts of the Spirit, and we need them all. We work together and share our gifts, Paul writes that we do this“for the common good.” God gives us these gifts, not for ourselves, but for the strengthening of the entire community, the body of Christ, and for service outside the community of faith.

In our gospel for today, Jesus performs his first miracle. He and  his mother are at a wedding. Mary notices that they have run out of wine and points this out to Jesus, thinking he can probably solve this problem. Jesus isn’t that enthusiastic about this role, but he tells them to fill the six very large jars with water, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. This water is there for the rites of purification, in other words to wash the dishes, a humble task. Without fanfare, somewhere between 120 and 130 gallons of wine reach the chief steward, who praises the bridegroom for saving the best for last.

Obviously, Jesus knows that his mission is not to go around to weddings and provide amazingly good wine, but, at his mother’s gentle urging, quietly, anonymously, he contributes to the joy and abundance of a feast. 

At the strong recommendation of the Covid Response Team, we are  returning to online services. As the Team points out, this is valid worship.

Our situation may be similar to the exiles returning home. We had some weeks of worshipping together. That felt wonderful, but now we’re facing a challenge just as God’s people did when they faced the monumental task of rebuilding. God gave them powerful reassurance of God’s love. 

The Corinthians were dividing into factions and Paul reminded them that everybody matters. We need the gifts and ministries of everyone. And in our gospel, we see Jesus and his mother at a wedding.  The wine runs out. Spirits begin to sag. What a disappointment! Suddenly, no one knows how, the best wine of all is being served.

That’s how Jesus is. When the going gets tough; when we encounter times of challenge, there he is, giving us the gifts we need. As we navigate through this time, may we realize that he has saved the best for this time— gifts of deep faith, hope, love, and joy. May he give us the grace to grow even stronger as a community of faith, love, and light, for he is the light of the world. Amen.

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany Year C RCL January 20, 2013

Annual Meeting

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

I will keep this short to leave time for our Annual Meeting. In or opening reading, the prophet known as the Third Isaiah proclaims the good news that God’s people will be returning from the Exile in Babylon and will rebuild Jerusalem. God expresses a powerful love for God’s people, Herbert O’Driscoll notes this and reminds us that Church tradition speaks of the Church as the bride of Christ, the beloved. O’Driscoll goes on to ask us to think about how much the Church is criticized these days, He encourages us to think of the ways in which we love the Church. This struck me because I hear from all of you often about how you love the Church and how much you love Grace Church. Certainly we are not closing our minds to the problems facing the Church. But that does not negate our love for the Church.

In our epistle for today, Paul is addressing a difficult congregation—the Church in Corinth. Herbert O’Driscoll’s thoughts on these lessons impressed me deeply. He writes of the Church in Corinth, “The Corinthian community was, for the most part, affluent, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan. Many of its people would be exceedingly sure of themselves socially and intellectually. Think of the jolt some of them would receive upon hearing that their abilities and gifts are spiritual gifts, given from outside themselves and not in the least due to their own brilliance.” Scholars tell us that the community was full of divisions and controversies, possibly because so many of the members had such a high opinion of themselves. One problem was that they did not realize that there are many spiritual gifts and all these gifts are precious and equal

The leading group thought that the gift of speaking in tongues was the highest and best gift, and that, if someone didn’t have this gift, they were probably not a true Christian. Paul makes a powerful statement  that every member of the Body of Christ and every gift is precious and equal. Everyone is needed. One of the many things I love about grace is that you know this. You know that each of you is a member of Christ’s body and that each of you has certain gifts. No one is better than anyone else. We are all needed. And you step up and offer your gifts.

Our reading from John’s gospel shows us Jesus’ first miracle. He and his mother are at a wedding. The host has run out of wine. This is not only an embarrassment, it is a lack of hospitality, and the ministry of hospitality was very important in the culture of that day.

When Mary, his mother, first encourages Jesus to do something about this, he thinks it is not the time to act. Sometimes we need someone who knows us well to guide us into our ministries.  O’Driscoll says,  “There would not have been any wine had she not applied her gentle pressure.” He adds another truth which is important in the Body of Christ. “All of us can be grateful to others—perhaps not even remembered—who at various moments in our lives drew us further than we were prepared to go, and thereby helped us discover gifts and powers that otherwise we would not have known. Mary knew her son. Perhaps she intuitively knew the wondrous reality that was in him, even as someone who loved us knew the lesser but nevertheless precious reality hidden in us.”

These lessons call us to love God and the Church, to be humble and faithful members of the Body of Christ, and to encourage each other to  use our gifts. This is a wonderful description of what you do every day.

God bless you. Keep up the good work. I am deeply grateful to serve and work with you.

Amen