• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion June 4, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.comTime:  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 June 11, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.comTime:  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 June 18, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.comTime:  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:…

Maundy Thursday April 1, 2021

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin Mandatum Novum, “new commandment.” Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Jesus and his disciples have gathered for the Passover meal. He says the usual blessings over the bread and wine, blessings they have heard their whole lives, but then he tells them that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood and that this meal will be a special way to call him into our midst. And so Christians have done for centuries.

Most shocking of all, he washes their feet. He has said that he is among them as one who serves, but when he kneels down and washes their feet, it is shocking. Peter tell Jesus that he, their King, cannot do such a thing. But Jesus says he must wash our feet or we will have no share in him. We will not be a part of him. We will not be one with him. And Peter says that our Lord should wash not only his feet but his hands and his head. 

The last time we were physically together for Holy Eucharist was on March 8, 2020, the Second Sunday in Lent. We have been fasting from Holy Eucharist for over a year. We cannot wash each other’s feet for the second Maundy Thursday in a row. These are our Lenten sacrifices this year, and this fast has been extremely difficult. We are feeling frustrated, sad, angry, many intense feelings.

Because we are not in our beloved building, there is another thing we cannot do. We cannot participate in the ritual of stripping the altar, taking everything away and leaving the altar completely unadorned and vulnerable. We put a wooden cross on the altar to remind ourselves of why we are doing this. We are doing this because tomorrow is Good Friday. Our Lord was stripped and vulnerable. He died on that cross.

Why is this silent ritual so powerful? There are many reasons, but perhaps one of them is that we want to strip ourselves of all that is not important, all that is irrelevant. We want to be clean. We want to be one with our Lord. We want to be part of him and part of the transformation that we call his shalom, his kingdom on earth.

We want to prepare ourselves to focus on the cross and its meaning.

The core of that meaning is what he has just told us. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love  one another.” Let us focus on his love. Let us immerse ourselves in his love. Let us continue to walk the Way of the Cross and the Way of Love with our Lord. In His holy Name. Amen.

Pentecost 2 Proper 6A   June 14, 2020

Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
Romans 5:1-8
Matthew 9:35-10:8

In our opening reading, Abraham is taking a siesta in his tent under the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron. It is a very hot day. As he rests and perhaps dozes a little, three men appear. This is not unusual. Travelers often came by.

In the Middle East, a desert culture, the rules of hospitality dictate that you should welcome strangers, feed them, give them water, and offer lodging if they need it. So Abraham jumps up, has his servants wash the visitors’ feet, gives them a snack of bread, and prepares a feast.

But these visitors are no ordinary people, They are God and two assistants. When they are eating the meal that has been prepared, they do a very unusual thing. They ask Abraham how his wife Sarah is doing. There is no way that a traveler would know the name of Abraham’s wife.

Now, we need to stop and remind ourselves of a few things about Abraham and Sarah. Abraham is now one hundred years old. When he was a mere seventy-five, God called him and Sarah to go from their comfortable home and life in Ur of the Chaldees, pack up everything they had, and begin a journey to a land they did not know. Ur was a town in what we would call southern Iraq. By this point in the story,  Abraham and Sarah have traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles.

Abraham is one hundred years old and Sarah is not far behind.

When God called them to make this journey, God told them that they would have descendants as numerous as the stars or as the number of grains on the beach. So far, there are no descendants.

Sarah is listening in on Abraham’s conversation with God and the two assistants. And God says to Abraham, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”

At last? After twenty-five years of wandering and enduring one challenge after another and and no word of good news, no hope? After all this, God is going to give us a son? Sarah, listening behind the tent flap, bursts into laughter. She howls with mirth. Oh, how she laughs.  She rolls on the ground. 

Later on she tries to deny it. But she did laugh. And once the divine visitors leave, Abraham has a good long laugh, too. And, in due course, Isaac is born. We can imagine the joy of Abraham and Sarah. After all their journeying, all their suffering along the way, they have a son. The name Isaac, means “laughter.”

Abraham and Sarah are the great icons of faith. Along the way they would sometimes remind God, “Lord, you know that promise about all those descendants? It hasn’t happened yet.” And God replies, “Be patient, It will happen.”

When we have a hope or a dream that means a great deal to us, sometimes when it happens, we laugh. The joy just spills over. We have wondered whether it would ever happen, and, when it finally does, we burst out in good deep, joyful laughter. Maybe quite a bit of it is relief, too, that we did not hope in vain and that God’s grace finally prevailed.

So, this week, I hope we will all think of Sarah, listening inside the tent and bursting out in laughter. I hope we will think of how she and Abraham kept the faith, never stopped hoping. And I hope that we may actually have a few moments of laughter over something this week. This laughter scene is like a precious gem in the Scriptures, something we can carry with us forever,

Another gem is from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Like Abraham and Sarah, we have faith. And because of the love of God and the reconciling work of our Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have peace, through everything. These are challenging times. But Paul tells us that we can “Boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” 

When we suffer through difficult times, and keep the faith, that builds our endurance, so that we can remain strong through other challenging times. And that endurance produces character. It strengthens our ability to follow Christ, to be the kind of person he calls us to be. And character produces hope. As we grow stronger and stronger in Christ and become more like him. we are more and more open to the hope that he gives us every day, every moment, together with his gifts of faith and love. Individually and together, we are a people of hope. 

And a third gem in our gospel for today: Our Lord is sending his apostles out to spread the good news. He is sending us, too. And he says, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Because he is with them, his kingdom has come near. Other scholars say that the translation is also, “The kingdom of God is within you.” We have been created with the divine spark of God within each of us, We are children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We are co- builders, with Christ, of his kingdom, His shalom.

Three gems from Scripture. Abraham and Sarah burst out into joyful laughter! God does keep God’s promises! 

Paul’s wise teaching: suffering builds endurance builds character. builds hope.

And our Lord’s assurance: the kingdom of God is near you; the kingdom of God is within you. Our loving God gives us the faith and the strength and the grace we need to get through challenging times. Our Good Shepherd is leading us. God is as close as our breath. God is within us. Amen.

Easter 3A April 26, 2020

Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

Our opening reading today is a continuation of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. Peter shares the good news abut Jesus in such a powerful way that three thousand people are baptized.

Our second reading is from the First Letter of Peter. This letter was written to followers of Jesus who were being persecuted. Peter calls them to “live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.” The word “fear” in this passage can be described as awe at God’s ability to carry us though difficult experiences, indeed God’s ability to bring life out of death. (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching Year B, p. 278.) 

As we have noted previously, and as Bishop Shannon has said, we who are living in this era of Covid 19, can feel as though we are in exile. We can identify with God’s people who were exiled in Babylon and we can also identify with the followers of Jesus who had to hide from the Roman authorities during times of persecution. Peter tells them and us, “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew…..”

Our gospel for today is one of the most beloved inspiring, and moving passages in the Bible, the account of the journey of two followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It is later in the day on the first Easter. Two followers of our Lord are walking on the road, talking about everything that has happened. They are sad and confused.

Suddenly, there is someone walking with them. They do not recognize him. They go on talking intensely, trying to figure out what has happened. They know that Jesus has died. There are rumors of something else, but they are not sure what to make of them. The stranger walks with them. Finally he asks them what they are talking about. They stop walking, and the profound sadness and grief shows on their faces. They can’t believe that this man is asking them what they are discussing.

Finally, Cleopas says, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He is a follower of Jesus and he is calling Jesus a stranger. We see this in all the accounts of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. Jesus somehow looks different. People do not recognize him.

Jesus asks, “What things?” Cleopas answers and gives Jesus a summary of the whole story. Then he goes to the root of the issue. “Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.” And Cleopas reports that some of the others went to the tomb, but they did not see Jesus.

Then Jesus, still not revealing his identity, recounts the whole teaching of the prophets abut the messiah. They still do not realize who he is.

They come near to their home and he begins to walk ahead as if to continue his journey, but they urge him to come in. They still do not recognize him, but they are extending hospitality to this stranger.

When they are finally sitting at the table and he takes the bread and blesses it, they finally realize who he is. Then they become aware that, as he taught them, their hearts burned within them. For those who had seen the horror of the cross, it was so difficult to recognize the risen Jesus when he appeared to them. 

Right away, these two followers of Jesus rush back to Jerusalem as fast as their legs can carry them. They go to the house where the apostles are staying. When they go into the room, they hear the others saying that Jesus is alive and he has appeared to Peter. They tell the others about their encounter with the risen Lord. He is appearing to folks here and there. The word is spreading. Jesus is alive! He has been through the worst that anyone could have to endure, and he has come out the other side. He has defeated death in all its forms. 

This powerful encounter of two faithful and devastated followers of Jesus with their risen Lord gives us hope. Have you ever been walking along your journey, perhaps in a time of great defeat, disappointment, and sadness, and felt Jesus silently falling into step with you and helping you along the way? Have you ever felt the presence of Jesus when you were struggling with a problem that seemed too complicated to solve? I think many of us have felt his presence in many different kinds of moments. His loving presence, leading and guiding us.

There is a bittersweet side to this beautiful gospel story for us in this time of social distancing. The way he gave us to call him into our midst, the way we have to celebrate his presence with us most clearly and powerfully is the Eucharist, meaning Thanksgiving. And we cannot gather and celebrate Holy Eucharist at this time.

Here, in the midst of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, this is a sad fact that we have to deal with. When we get back to Grace Church and share our first Eucharist, that will be a happy day indeed. 

Meanwhile, we need to remember that, although the Holy Eucharist is a wonderful and special way to celebrate the presence of Jesus among us, it is by no means the only way. We must remember that he said, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them.” He is with us now. He is with each of us in every moment of our lives.

Like the faithful people whom Peter was addressing in his letter, we are called to “love one another deeply from the heart.” We are also called to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Let us continue to follow the science. Let us work and pray for accurate and widely distributed testing for both they disease and the antibodies. Let us also pray for continuing development of contact tracing, effective treatments and vaccines. In the words of our collect, let us pray “that we may behold [our Lord] in all his redeeming work,” especially in the work of our medical folks, scientists, essential workers, first responders, food shelf volunteers, and all who are showing forth his love in this time when his love is so profoundly needed. Amen.

Maundy Thursday March 29, 2018

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin Mandatum Novum, meaning “new commandment.” Jesus said, “ I give you a new commandment,that you love one another.” Jesus did two other revolutionary things on that day. He took the bread and wine that they had shared before, and he said the usual blessings, but then he said of the bread, “This is my body” and of the wine, “This is my blood.” And he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”” The word translated as “remembrance” is anamnesis. Literally, “un-forgetting.” Do this for the unforgetting of me. Do this to call me into your midst.
And then, after supper, he washed their feet. He did a thing that servants, slaves would do. Peter could not bear this. Martin Smith of the Society of St, John the Evangelist has a wonderful meditation on this. He says that Peter’s difficulty in accepting Jesus as a servant mirrors our own. He points out that it is much easier for us to look up
to Jesus as our Lord and Master that it is for us to look down at him as he washes our feet. We have been trained to be self-sufficient, and it is extremely difficult for us to accept the unconditional love that we receive from our Lord this day and every day. It is that unconditional love that is touching me very deeply this year as we gather for this service. Martin Smith says that Jesus is telling us that, if we don’t let him wash our feet, we will be cutting ourselves off from him. That is why Peter asks Jesus to wash his hands and his head as well.

God’s unconditional love is so beyond our earthly imaginings that I believe we have to spend our whole lives gradually learning to accept that love. In a profound sense, Maundy Thursday is about learning to allow our Lord to minister to us, to serve us, to wash us. At the end of his meditation, Martin Smith offers this prayer: Spirit of yielding, Spirit of consent, Spirit of Yes, Spirit of letting-go, Spirit of acceptance, Spirit of humility and openness, Spirit who trains my eyes to look down at Jesus looking up to me, ever ready to wash and serve me—I need you, I need you to give me a fresh receptivity to the unconditional love of God, to make my embrace of the Cross real and not just a matter of words.” (A Season for the Spirit, p.154.)

And my prayer, Beloved Lord, open our hearts to your love. Amen.
Beloved Lord, open hour hearts to your love. Amen

Easter 3A RCL April 30, 2017

Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

Our opening reading is a continuation from last Sunday’s passage. Peter tells the gathered crowd that Jesus is Lord and Messiah. The people are “cut to the heart” because of the death of Jesus, and they ask Peter what they can do? He tells them that they can repent, that is, confess to God that they are truly sorry and that they want to change their lives; they want to follow Jesus. The end result is that three thousand people are baptized on that Pentecost. Because of the powerful faith and witness of Peter and the other apostles, scenes like this continued to happen, and they are described in the Book of Acts.

In our second reading, from the First Letter of Peter, we remember that he is addressing people who are living under persecution. They are in exile because they are following different values and living different lives from those around them. Their lives have been transformed through meeting Jesus. Peter reminds them and us that we are now trusting in God and that our faith and hope are set on God. Peter calls them and us to love one another deeply from our hearts because we have been born anew.

Our gospel today is from Luke. As in last week’s gospel, it is the first Easter. This is one of the most beloved gospel stories, the Walk to Emmaus. Two followers of Jesus are going along the seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They know that Jesus has been crucified. That is a fact. Some of the women have been to Jesus’ tomb, have found it empty, and have had a vision of angels telling them that Jesus has risen. Some others in the group have gone to the tomb and found it empty.

We know that one of the men is named Cleopas. The other remains unnamed. We do not know for sure where they are from, but I think they probably live in Emmaus and are heading home. When we have been following a great leader and spiritual guide and he is brutally killed, sometimes our instinct is to head home, where we can be with people we love, and regroup.

They are walking along, grieving over Jesus’ death and wondering: has he really risen from the dead? They are in deep grief because they know he died on the cross. But they are also having glimmers of hope. Could it be true? Could he have risen? They did not go to see the empty tomb themselves, but people they knew and trusted saw that reality and experienced the vision of the angels. Could they trust all of that? Could they allow themselves to hope? They are talking about all these things.

Suddenly a stranger is walking along with him. They do not recognize him. In all of these post-resurrection accounts, this happens over and over again. There is something different about Jesus. He looks like himself, but he also has changed. Also, people know that he has died, and that is the reality they are dealing with.

The stranger asks them what they have been talking about and they tell him what has happened. They go over the whole story. I imagine they may be shocked when he tells them how foolish they are not to believe what the prophets have said. Then he gives them a short course in the scriptures. They still do not recognize him.

As they near the village of Emmaus, Jesus walks on as if to continue his journey. They offer hospitality to him because night is coming. He goes in to stay with them. When they sit down to eat and he breaks the bread, they recognize him. But then he vanishes.

Then they are able to tell each other how he set their hearts on fire when he was talking about the scriptures and how their eyes and hearts were opened to the truth.

They get up and head back to Jerusalem, where they find the eleven apostles and their close friends gathered. The apostles tell the two men that the Lord is risen and has appeared to Peter. The two men, in turn, share their encounter with the risen Lord on the Road to Emmaus. As time goes on, the risen Lord will appear to different people here and there until they all realize that he is alive.

When we have seen or experienced something terrible, as these two men and all of Jesus’ followers had experienced his crucifixion, the horror of the thing is so dark and overwhelming that it is almost impossible to hope. We feel paralyzed. Often after a tragic experience such as that, we feel nothing. We are numb. That is a protective mechanism the body has in order to help us keep going. It is called psychic numbing.

As time goes on, we are afraid to feel anything. Like these two men, we find it difficult to hope again. I think that is part of the reason why they don’t recognize the living Lord. They know for certain that he is dead. And they do not dare to hope for anything else.

But there he is, a stranger on the road. There he is, walking with us, asking us what is going on in our lives and we are telling him about these horrible things that have happened, things he knows all about because he has endured them—he is with us in all our sufferings—and then we realize. There he is. He has come through it all and is leading us. Like the biblical Good Shepherd that he is, he is out ahead of the flock, helping us to stay away from the bad water holes and leading us to good pasture, telling us that there is always hope and leading us into his vision of shalom—peace, love, and wholeness for each of us and for the entire creation. New life.

And always, always, he makes himself known to us in the breaking of the bread.  Always, no matter what, he is with us. Amen.

Maundy Thursday March 24, 2016

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum—Mandatum novum—a new commandment. Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Our King washes our feet. Our Savior washes our feet just as a servant would do. Kings don’t wash people’s feet. Kings don’t take off their formal garments, grab a towel, kneel on the floor and wash the feet of travelers and pilgrims on the journey.

Peter is scandalized. “Lord, you shouldn’t be doing this.” But Jesus tells him and us that we can’t have a share in him—we can’t be in the close relationship that we want and need to have with him if we don’t let him serve us. That’s when Peter asks our Lord to wash his hands and his head, too.

Our King washes our feet. This tells us how far his kingdom is from the usual order of things. He calls us to a kingdom in which love and service are the highest ideals. We can’t be in fellowship with him unless we let him serve us. We can’t participate fully in his life unless we love and serve others.

How far this is from a world where terrorists attack innocent people in Brussels. How far this is from the idea that might makes right.

Our King washes our feet. May we let him cleanse us. May we let him come into our hearts and make us whole. May we let him lead us into a ministry of love and servanthood. May we follow him as he leads us into his kingdom.   Amen.

Maundy Thursday April 2, 2015

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1. 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:21=16
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

At this last gathering with his closest followers, Jesus did three revolutionary and life-changing things.

The first thing that he did was to wash the disciples’ feet. If you went into the home of a rich person, that person’s slave would wash your feet. The was a profound sign of hospitality. At the very least, all of the apostles realized that Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher. Peter realized that he was the messiah. Some of the others were probably grasping that fact as well.

The savior of the world washes his followers’ feet. All through his ministry he has kept saying, “I am among you as one who serves,” and he calls us to be servants, too.

The second thing is that he takes the bread and wine and says the usual blessings, but then he says that we should share this meal in remembrance of him. He gives us this meal as a way to call him to be among us. This meal reminds us that whenever we gather, he is in our midst.

The third thing is the commandment he gives us: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

May we carry on his ministry of servanthood. May we be ever more aware of his presence among us. May we love one another and love others in his Name.


Maundy Thursday—April 17, 2014

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

In the time of Jesus, if you entered the home of a prosperous person after a long journey, a slave would take you to a special room and there you would take a bath. Most people walked. The roads were dusty. Folks wore sandals or went barefoot. Feet got dirty. If you entered the home after a short journey, a slave would come to you, take off your sandals, and wash your feet as you sat at the table. People usually lounged on cushions around the table.

When he washes the feet of the disciples, Jesus is doing the work of a slave. We can imagine the disciples sitting in shocked silence as he washes their feet one by one. Finally, he gets to Peter, and Peter is not going to have his Lord doing the work of a slave. But Jesus tells Peter that he can have no share with Jesus unless he allows Jesus to wash his feet. What does this mean?

Gail R. O’Day of Emory University writes: “To have a share with Jesus is to have fellowship with him, to participate fully in his life. It draws the disciple into the love that marks God’s and Jesus’ relationship to each other and to the world. One’s share with Jesus, then, is the gift of full relationship with him.” (New Interpreter’s Bible, p. 723.)

We are called to accept Jesus’ model of servanthood, and we are called to do servant ministry in our own lives. We are also called to be cleansed and transformed by Jesus. We are called to realize that there is no task that is below us if it is done in the service of God, and that there is no person who is beyond the love of God.

Again this year, I think of Pope Francis, who so joyfully models Christ’s servanthood for all of us. Pope Francis has a share in the love that is between God and Jesus and the Spirit. That is what we are called to do—to accept Jesus’ ministry to us, to let him cleanse and heal us, to ground ourselves in his love, and then to share that love with others.