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    • 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:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion June 25, 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:…

Pentecost 14 Proper 18A September 6, 2020

Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

In our opening reading, in the first month of the new year, under the leadership of the two men God has called to be leaders, God frees God’s people from their slavery in Egypt. God calls the people to eat a special meal of roast lamb, unleavened bread,  and bitter herbs to remind them of their time of suffering under slavery. This is the Passover meal, which will be celebrated for centuries to come.

As they eat this first Passover, the people are ready for the journey, They are going to travel light. Like every great story of our ancestors in the Bible, this is our story.

As we know, Jesus ate the Passover meal with his apostles before he was crucified. He blessed the bread and wine and told them that the bread was his body and the wine was his blood shed for all of us. Although we have not been able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together for five months, we gather as the risen Body of Christ every Sunday. Though we share Morning Prayer and not Eucharist, we know that our Lord is present with us and that he feeds us with his presence and with his love.

When we celebrate Holy Eucharist, the celebrant elevates the host, and breaks the bread, and we sing “Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia! “ The broken bread symbolizes the brokenness of our Lord’s Body and also the brokenness in us and in our world. As Christians, we believe that in his suffering on the cross Jesus took into himself all that brokenness and made it whole, and, as Barbara Brown Taylor says, “Gave it back to us as life.” As God freed God’s people from slavery in Egypt, Jesus, through the power of his love, frees us from slavery to sin. Our Lord can take our brokenness and make it whole.

In today’s gospel, our Lord gives us a pathway toward reconciliation in the community of faith. Scholars remind us that context is crucial. Preceding this gospel passage, the disciples ask Jesus who is the greatest, and our lord calls a child to come into their midst to remind them and us of the importance of innocence, humility, and openness. Then he speaks of the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep and goes off to find the one lost sheep and bring it to safety.  For Jesus, no one is beyond the pale. He will search for us and rescue us when we are lost. Following this passage, Peter asks Jesus how many times we should forgive someone who hurts us, and Jesus says to forgive ninety-nine times. Jesus calls us to be humble, open, hopeful, loving, inclusive, and forgiving.

Our passage reads, “If another member of the church sins against you,…” but the original Greek reads more like, “If a brother or sister sins against  you…” This lets us know that Jesus is thinking of us as brothers and sisters, people who care deeply about each other and who treat each other with respect and love. This means that this approach of conflict resolution is not designed for situations of abuse or domestic violence. In those situations, the first thing is to get the victim to a safe place.

In our gospel scenario, the person who has been hurt goes and talks with the person who has hurt him or her. The hope is that the other person will listen carefully, acknowledge and apologize for the wrong, and change his or her behavior. If that does not work, the injured person gets one or two other members of the congregation to go with him or her and try again to get accountability and amendment of behavior from the person who has caused harm to another. If that does not work, the matter is brought to the whole congregation.

In the early Church, if there was any conflict in the congregation, the people involved had to reconcile that issue before the Peace was exchanged. In those days, the Bishop always presided, so the people stood before the bishop, worked out the matter, and then everyone passed the Peace.

Scholars tell us that the portion that talks about ejecting the person who does not listen and looking upon that person  as “a Gentile or a tax collector” is not something Jesus would say. This is the work of a later editor. We know that Jesus chose a tax collector, Matthew, as one of his apostles, and that he associated with Gentiles. Jesus did not look down on anyone. He did not exclude anyone.

Then he says, “Where two or three gather in my name, I am there among them.” And, indeed, he is with us now whether we are gathering on Zoom or in person. 

In our epistle for today, Paul, the Pharisee, the expert on the law, gives us the summary of the law, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And then he says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Jesus has said that he came to fulfill the law. Our readings today are telling us that God’s love can lead us into freedom. In this time of profound polarization, I ask us all to focus on the love God has for us and for all people and the power of God’s love to bring our country together in a spirit of reconciliation so that we can center our attention on the important work God is calling us to do together.

Grace Church has a long history of love and a wise history and spiritual practice of holding opposites in loving tension, and finding the path to reconciliation. This is a wonderful God-given gift in these times of division. The ability to look at each other and at others beyond our community as beloved children of God is what is going to carry us through these times of polarization into a time of reconciliation. 

As patience frays and tempers flare in this pandemic, I once again thank God for Governor Scott, Dr. Levine, and Dr. Kelso, who are exemplifying God’s love by calling us to follow the science and take care of each other. I ask your prayers for them, for all leaders, and for our children, educational leaders, and school personnel as they begin a new term. 

May our our wise and loving God lead our nation out of slavery to divisiveness and destruction into the freedom of reconciliation, respect for the dignity of every human being, and sincere work on common goals which will help all of us. May God give us the grace to see each other as brothers and sisters, neighbors we have in God, that we all may love and serve and help each other. Amen.

May we pray together the Prayer for the Power of the Spirit.

All Saints Sunday Year C November 3, 2019

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6:20-31

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Daniel. This book was written to inspire God’s people during a time when they were being persecuted by an extremely cruel tyrant called Antiochus IV. The book purports to be taking place at the time of the Exile from 586 to 538 B.C.E., but it was actually written during the time of Antiochus. Using information in the book, scholars can actually date it to 167-164 B.C.E. (Gene M. Tucker, Preaching through the Christian Year C, p. 482.)

We remember Daniel as the great hero who won the battle against the lions in that famous den. Our passage today describes a vision. The four winds of heaven stir up the great sea, and four great beasts come up out of the sea. The actual descriptions of the four beasts are omitted, but they represent four empires—the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks.

Earthly empires rise and fall, but the holy ones of God will receive and possess God’s kingdom forever. This was a beacon of hope and inspiration to God’s people struggling under the cruelty of a tyrant who was persecuting them.

In our reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, we read of the precious inheritance we have received. Like all the saints who came before us, we have set our hope on Christ. We read these stirring words. “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which he has called you.” There is that word again—hope. We are a people of hope.

We have received such a great gift. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, all the saints who have gone before us, those who are here now, and those who will follow, and they are all cheering us on as we run the race, following our Lord Jesus. As Sister Rachel Hosmer of the Order of Saint Helena used to say, “Christ has won the victory. We are part of the mopping up operation.”

As we celebrate All Saints Sunday and think of all those who have gone before us—Laura, Hoddie, Charlotte, Harriet, Gertrude, Geraldine, A. J., Theresa, Gwen, Ruth, Frederika, Kate, Arthur, Eva, Albert, Sue, Alvin, Nat and so many more, we contemplate our gospel for today, Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain.

Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is easier. It has all blessings and no woes. It is placed more on a spiritual level—“Blessed are the poor in spirit” rather than simply “Blessed are the poor.” In Luke’s gospel, our Lord says, blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated, excluded, reviled, and defamed on account of our Lord. Woe to those who are rich, full, laughing. Woe to you when people speak well of you. As many have observed, it is a huge reversal. 

Fred Craddock reminds us of the time when our Lord read the prophecy of Isaiah in the synagogue. When he finished, he said, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled.’ (Luke 4:21.) Craddock writes, “The today that Jesus declared in Nazareth still prevails. The messiah who will come has come, and the prophecy of Isaiah  (Isaiah 61:1-2) concerning the poor, the diseased, the imprisoned, and the oppressed is no longer a hope but is an agenda for the followers of Jesus.” (Craddock, Interpretation: Luke, p.88.)

In this sermon on the plain, on the level, Jesus is calling us to take the poor and hungry as seriously as we do the rich and those who have plenty of food. This is just another way of saying that this gospel is calling us to honor our baptismal covenant to “respect the dignity of every human being.”

The last portion of this reading is even more challenging to us. Our Lord calls us to love our enemies and to pray for those who abuse us. Craddock writes, “This unit… lays down the general principle that Jesus’ followers do not reciprocate, do not retaliate, and do not draw their behavior patterns from those who would victimize them.” (Craddock, p. 89.) At the same time we need to say that, if someone is being abused, they have every right to seek help. healing, and justice. 

And then he sums it up with what we know as the Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Every major religion in the world has this rule or something like it. As we all know, if all of us followed the rule, God’s kingdom would come to the earth.

As we meditate on these readings, I thank God that you and I are not in this moment living in fear of being killed by someone like Antiochus IV, but there are many people who are facing such persecution in one way or another, and I hope we will pray for them and pray and work for the day when there will be peace on earth, when everyone will have enough to eat, water to drink, clothing  and safe shelter and medical care and good work to do.

As I think of these beatitudes, I think of our interfaith food shelf. People are welcomed with hospitality and respect. No one is turned away.  Our two main upstairs greeters who welcome folks and keep our records for the United Way and other agencies know almost all of our clients by name. I have seen them deal with folks who feel ashamed to have to ask for food. I have seen our volunteers extend God’s love to these people. I think that is what our Lord is talking about in this gospel.

As we celebrate with joy this great feast of All Saints, I hope we will feel the energy and love of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. May we continue to build God’s kingdom of peace, harmony, and wholeness  Amen.


Pentecost 14 Proper 18A RCL September 10, 2017

Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

In our opening reading from the Book of Exodus, we find the instructions for what has come to be called the Passover. For centuries, our Jewish brothers and sisters have celebrated this feast of their escape from slavery into freedom.

Herbert O’Driscoll reminds us that, because our Lord was crucified and rose from death at the time of the Passover, our Holy Eucharist is associated with that feast. At the time of the Fraction, the celebrant breaks the bread, and we sing, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.”

When we break the bread, this symbolizes the brokenness in our lives, in our communities, in our nations,  and in the world. At the same time, we rejoice in the fact that our Lord has taken all that brokenness,  including the brokenness of death, and made it into the wholeness of new life. We celebrate our own Passover from slavery to sin into the freedom of life in Christ.

In our reading from the Book of Romans, Paul, who is a Pharisee, a scholar of the Law, tells us that great truth—that love is the sum total of the Law. He writes, “The commandments are summed up in this word,  Love your neighbor as yourself. “

Paul tells us that the night is gone and the day is here, and he calls us to “put on the armor of light.” He actually calls us to dress ourselves in Christ, to clothe ourselves in the love and grace of our Lord, and to do only those things which are in harmony with love of God and others.

In our gospel, we recall that a bit earlier, the apostles have asked Jesus who is the greatest and he has taken a child in his arms and called us to become as humble and open and trusting as little children. Following that, Jesus has told the parable of the lost sheep, reminding us that everyone is precious to him, even those whom we might consider to be “lost.” To our Lord, no one is lost or beyond hope.  As further context, following this passage, Peter asks Jesus how many times we must forgive and our Lord answers, “seventy-seven times.”The point is that we should not count the times we forgive each other as we try to live together in community.

In today’s gospel, Jesus gives us a short course in conflict resolution. If someone in our faith community has hurt us, we should talk with them privately. We hope they will acknowledge that they have hurt us, ask our forgiveness, and change their behavior.  If that does not happen, we take one or two others along with us and make another attempt. This means that we are asking the prayers and wisdom and help of others in the community in order to resolve the conflict. If the person refuses to listen to even two or three members of the community then the issue is shared with the whole church.

At this point, we recall that, in the early Church, at the peace, any people who were not reconciled would come before the bishop, who was always the celebrant in the very early Church. Right in front of the whole congregation the bishop would help the people to reconcile. Then the bishop would extend the peace. When the celebrant says, “The peace of the Lord be always with you,” and we answer, “And also with you,” that is the remnant in our service of the early process of reconciliation. The community would not move ahead into the Eucharistic Prayer until they were all reconciled with each other.

Scholars tell us that we need to look at the the next part of this passage with great care.  Jesus would not say that we should excommunicate people or shun people. These are words added later, by an editor. Jesus was criticized for associating with Gentiles and tax collectors. He loved these people. He even called a tax collector, Matthew, to be one of the apostles. So he would not say that we should treat people as Gentiles and tax collectors.

At the end of our passage for today, Jesus says, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them.” When we are gathered in his name, this means that we are gathered with a clear sense that, in his view, no one is “lost,” or beyond the pale. Everyone is worthy of respect. Our baptismal vows call us to “respect the dignity of every human being,” and we are called to forgive countless times. When we gather in his name, we are centered and focused in his love.

Once again, I must emphasize that this gospel does not apply to situations of abuse or domestic violence. These provisions apply to life in community where everyone is considered precious and equal. In situations of abuse or violence, we must do all we can to help victims get to a place of safety.

God cared deeply about God’s people enslaved in Egypt and called Moses to lead them to freedom. God with us, Emmanuel, God walking the face of the earth, died and rose again to lead us to freedom through life in him. Paul, a Pharisee who had devoted his life to the law, has been transformed in Christ and tells us that love is at the center of everything. Our Lord calls us to resolve any conflicts and to practice the ministry of reconciliation so that we can keep the community of faith strong and ready to respond to any need.

Love is at the center of everything. Amen.

All Saints Sunday November 6, 2016

Daniel 7:1-3. 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6: 20-31

Today, we celebrate All Saints Sunday. This sermon will be short so that we can hear from our Convention delegates.

All Saints is a wonderful feast. Our  Collect reminds us that we are all members of the Body of Christ. We are knit together in one fellowship which spans all time. We are part of the Communion of Saints going back into the time of Peter and Paul and Martha and Mary Magdalene and going forward into eternity.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, saints, people just like you and me who loved our Lord and followed him. And, as part of this faithful multitude, we gain strength from their presence so that we can run the race that is set before us.

We are not alone. We do not have to run the race alone. We have help, very strong and good help. We are never alone. Together with the capital S saints such as the folks I mentioned earlier, we have our wonderful small s saints. And here at Grace, as we celebrate the bicentennial of this amazing parish, we can feel them cheering us on—Albert Hopson Bailey, Kate Whittemore, Hoddie, Charlotte, Laura, Harriet, Geraldine, Ruth, Gertrude, Arthur, Gwen, A. J. and Theresa, and all the people who have made Grace Church the faithful, loving, hopeful, and resilient community that it is.

We are not alone. They are all with us, helping us to be faithful to our Lord’s call to love and serve others, here and around the world.

Thanks be to God for this cloud of witnesses! Amen.

All Saints Sunday Year C RCL November 3, 2013

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1: 11-23
Luke 6: 20-31

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Daniel. This book is supposedly set in the sixth century B. C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile, but it was actually written during the persecution of the Jews under the notorious tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B. C.

The beasts symbolize four empires that conquered Jerusalem one after another: the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks. The lesson says that “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever.” This book was written to inspire God’s people to persevere in difficult and brutal times. Tyrants rise and fall, but the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Our gospel for today is from Luke—the Sermon on the Plain. In Matthew, it is the Sermon on the Mount, but Luke wants to make it clear that Jesus is on a level with the people, so he offers the Beatitudes from a “level place.”

Matthew has Jesus saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Blessed are those who admit their brokenness and their need for God. Luke has Jesus blessing the poor, not because Jesus thinks it is good or ennobling for people to be poor, but because he is telling us that, no matter what we are enduring, if we have faith in God, we are kingdom people who have genuine joy and hope. Matthew has Jesus blessing the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for his sake. In addition to the poor, Luke has Jesus blessing those who are hungry and those who weep.

These kingdom qualities—being poor in spirit or literally poor, being meek, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers—these are the qualities our society avoids or sneers at. But these are the qualities we are called to admire. These are the qualities of saints.

Each of the four gospels emphasizes different things about Jesus. The Rev. Al Smith of St, James, Essex Junction used to compare the writing of the gospels to eyewitness accounts of an accident at the five corners. He said that, if we had ten eyewitnesses who wrote accounts of just one accident, each one would notice different things and accentuate different aspects, but it would be the same accident.

Matthew tended to spiritualize the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This increased the latitude of the meaning. Even if we are not literally poor, if we are honest, we are all poor in spirit, We all need God’s help. Both Matthew and Luke are conveying the essential truth of Jesus’ description of kingdom people, shalom people. Many commentators point out that the Beatitudes are not commandments. Jesus is not saying, “Be like this.” Either we are like this or we are not.

Shalom people admit our brokenness and our need for God. We allow room for others. We don’t rush to the front of the line. We extend compassion to others. We try, with God’s help, to focus on God with all our hearts and minds. We try, with God’s help, to work for peace and reconciliation.

As many scholars have pointed out, the beatitudes are a complete reversal of the values of life in this world, For the most part, these qualities will not help us to climb the ladder of success or to get ahead in the world’s terms. Kingdom people think about the needs of others, opening literal and figurative doors for others. Letting people in line ahead of us. Sharing God’s abundance of love and healing and food and clothing and shelter, making room for those who may not have the kind of accessibility that we do. I see these values every day here at Grace. As Christians, we are all living into these values.

When he was here on earth, Jesus was creating a new family, a new community of love and healing and reconciliation. When people saw his vision of how the world could be, that vision strengthened their weak knees and set their hearts on fire.

The Letter to the Ephesians was a circular letter that was written to encourage the early Christians who gathered in house churches across the Roman Empire. Commentator Lance Pape writes of these small groups of the faithful centuries ago and asks, “How could they know that when the apostle spoke of the communion of saints it would include a throng of billions stretched across millennia?” (Pape, New Proclamation Year C 2013, p. 217)

We are part of the living, vibrant, Body of Christ. We have been knit together with millions of others into his Body. We are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” the Communion of Saints—those who have gone before us, those who are here now and those who will come after us, from Mary and Joseph, to Paul, to Ambrose of Milan, to Hilda of Whitby, to Teresa of Avila to Jonathan Myrick Daniels, to Pope Francis, to the people we meet in shops or at tea.

We are part of a living Body of people who are living these shalom values which Jesus gave us in his beatitudes. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism. We have had “the eyes of our hearts enlightened.” We have seen his vision of how he wants the world to be, and we are working toward creating that new world.

Loving and gracious God, thank you for the support of this great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. Thank you for your vision of a world brought to wholeness where everyone is loved and respected. Give us the grace to help you build your shalom. In Jesus’ Name,


Pentecost 12 Proper 18A RCL September 4, 2011

Exodus 12: 1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13: 8-14
Matthew 18: 15-20

 Our opening lesson from the Book of Exodus is the account of the first Passover. The people are going to be delivered from slavery. Each household gathers for a meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs to remind them of their suffering. They are ready to travel—loins girded, sandals on their feet, and staff in their hand. They will begin their journey to the Promised Land.

One of my beloved mentors, David Brown, former Rector of Christ Church, Montpelier, has wisely said that, to be a good Christian one must be a good Jew first. By that he means that so many experiences of God’s people Israel are also our experience as humans and as Christians. It is important for us to remember this Passover history and to realize that our Jewish friends celebrate this feast every year around the time we are celebrating Easter. Their history is our history. We are all enslaved in various ways, As God’s people moved toward the Promised Land, so we follow our Lord as he leads us out of slavery to sin and into newness of life.

In our epistle, Paul is coming to the end of his Letter to the Romans. He is a Pharisee, an expert on the law, but now he says simply, “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” He tells us that all the commandments involving our behavior toward others are summed up in the one statement, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He says that slavery to sin is like being asleep or like being in the dark, But now the day is near and we can live in the light. Paul sounds an Advent theme of casting aside the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light. He even encourages us to “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” as though we were clothing ourselves with the goodness and strength of our Lord. Powerful and inspiring language from Paul.

Our gospel this morning deals with the question of how to deal with conflict in the Church. If someone sins against us, we are to go to then and try to resolve it one on one. If that does not work, we take two or three other members of the community and try to reach reconciliation. If that does not work, we bring it before the whole community. If the person will not amend his or her behavior, the leaders of the community may exclude the person.

What are these lessons telling us here in September of 2011? There are certainly conflicts in the Church and among Christian groups. Our Congress has recently experienced conflict to the point of deadlock.

Jesus called everyone to be a part of the community, rich and poor, men, women, and children, people from all walks of life, even those who were considered beyond the pale, such as tax collectors. In the Church, we have a principle of unity in diversity. If we look over the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and all the Christian churches, there is huge diversity. But we are all trying to follow Jesus. Even if we look at Grace Church, I think we represent the entire political spectrum from Progressives, to Democrats to Republicans to Independents and probably others. Yet we are all trying to follow Jesus.

If we look at our beloved country, the United States of America, there are people of all faiths and all nationalities. There is a huge diversity. That is a strength.

Here in Vermont, southern and central Vermont have been devastated by Irene. This past Thursday, I heard one of the town leaders in Ludlow talking. They have been hit so hard, but they had gotten the power on and they could get in and out of town. What was he saying? He said, now that we are sort of back on or feet, we are concentrating on helping our neighbors in Cavendish, who were hit even worse.

That is the Vermont way, and that is the way of every one of the major faith traditions. We are called to help each other, to look out for those who have less than we have,  to help others. We are called to share.

These lessons are about what is good for the whole community. To love each other, to care for each other—these values are emphasized in our faith and in every faith. This is the Vermont way, and it is the way of compassion.

Jesus summarized the law when he said that we are called to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. His whole life and ministry give us a clear picture of the vision of shalom. Shalom. Usually translated as “peace,” is much more than the absence of war. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori writes, in her book A Wing and a Prayer, “Shalom is a vision of the city of God on earth, a community where people are at peace with each other because each one has enough to eat, adequate shelter, medical care, and meaningful work. Shalom is a city where justice is the rule of the day, where prejudice has vanished, where the diverse gifts with which we have been so abundantly blessed are equally valued.”

This is our vision of community, here at grace, in Sheldon, in all the communities from which we come, in Vermont, in the United States, and all around this earth. God’s shalom has begun, but it is not yet fully realized. We are called to pitch in and help it to happen.

I feel truly blessed to live here in Vermont. I hope and pray that our Congress will learn to do things the Vermont way, working together for the good of all. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are still dealing with the devastation of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene, and most especially for Gethsemane, Proctorsville. Their parish hall is “a pile of wood scraps” and the foundation of their church building is compromised. Each parish has been asked to have a contact person so that we can get together to help other parishes recover from this storm.

May we love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and may we love our neighbors as ourselves.