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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion April 2, 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:…
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Trinity Sunday Year A June 7, 2020

Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20

Today is Trinity Sunday. Over centuries of time, the Christian community has experienced “God in three persons, blessed Trinity,” as the beloved hymn states. We experience God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or, in gender-neutral language, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Our opening reading today is a wonderful description of the creation. It dates back 2500 years. As we read or listen to this passage, we can visualize how God called the creation into being. At every stage, there is that wonderful refrain, “And God saw that it was good.” God the Creator.

The second person of the trinity is Christ, our Redeemer. As time went on, and it did not take a great deal of time, we humans began to go astray. Cain kills Abel very early in the story. And God loves us so much that God’s heart breaks to see what we are doing to each other.

So God, who is powerful enough to call the universe into being, God, who loves us beyond our ability to grasp the depth of that love, comes among us. He is born to Mary and Joseph, people of deep faith, and great courage, and he grows up in a little out of the way place called Nazareth and learns the carpenter’s trade.

When he becomes an adult, he begins his ministry, choosing twelve close followers we call the apostles. His message is clear “love one another as I have loved you.” Then, as now, some people in high places are threatened by the power of God’s love, and our Lord is assassinated on a cross, a form of punishment reserved for the lowest of the low.

He dies a terrible death, and two members of the ruling Council ask Pontius Pilate for permission to take his body and give it a reverent, loving burial. They risk death to do that. We do not know what happens to them after that point.

The Apostles’ Creed says that Jesus descended to the dead. He loves us so much that he wants to touch every heart and life with that love, even those who have died and gone to the underworld. On that first Easter morning, when the women go to anoint his body, the tomb is empty.  He is risen. Mary Magdalene sees him, then he appears to the others. And then, fifty days later, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends on all of them with the wind of the Spirit the ruach, and sets their hearts on fire so that they can speak of God’s love heart to heart with people from all over the known world. 

In today’s gospel, our Lord sends the disciples and us out to baptize others and welcome them into the community of love that he is building. In our reading from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, after reminding them of all the ways we live together as a loving community, he calls us once again to “live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” And Paul ends with one of the earliest threefold blessings, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion, the koinonia of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons who are different, yet are One. Three expressions of the one God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Every time there is a positive act of creation, whether it is writing a novel, baking a pie, planting a garden, creating a vaccine that prevents people from getting s disease, or developing a treatment for a dreadful disease, God is present in that process. God the Creator.

Whenever people come together and listen to each other and make peace with each other and work to make life better for everyone, God the Redeemer and Reconciler, is there.

God the Holy Spirit is God working in us and in the world to bring about God’s shalom of peace, love, and justice.. Whenever and wherever people work together to bring peace, love, and justice, God is there. 

Jesus tells us that he has come among us as one who serves. He calls us to be servants in his name. Our Commissioner of Public Safety, Michael Schirling, who served for many years as Chief of Police in Burlington, said recently that police officers are called to serve their communities. To paraphrase, he said that, if a police officer is not in it to serve, he or she should consider another vocation.

There are two key words in connection with this thought of service, and here I am indebted to the teaching of one of my beloved mentors, the Rev. David W. Brown, who served as Rector of Christ Church, Montpelier. We speak of people who have authority. The word “authority” is derived from the Latin root auctoritas, meaning authorship, creativity, calling new things into being as God does at the Creation, bringing freedom, as God did at the Exodus.

Too often, when we think of authority, we make the error of confusing it with imperium, the Latin root for tyranny. Tyranny does not seek to create. It seeks to control, intimidate, and imprison. It does not bring freedom. As David used to say, tyranny is the boot of the dictator coming down on the people and crushing them.

This distinction between auctoritas  and imperium is crucial to the nature of God and to the ideal of leadership in God’s kingdom, God’s shalom.The nature of God is auctoritas, not imperium. The nature of God is to be creative, to free people from bondage of any kind, to bring love, harmony, justice, freedom, and life rather than hate, fear, division, bondage, and death. The boot of the tyrant coming down on the ordinary people is not true authority, not consistent with God’s shalom. The use of power in any way that is not creative, freeing, serving, unifying, and healing is not true authority and is not consistent with God’s shalom.

As the beloved hymn says, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” Our God is a God of creativity, freedom, love, reconciliation, healing, servanthood, unity, and wholeness. As we continue to work to heal ourselves of the Corona Virus and of our tragic and destructive heritage of racism, may we seek the values of God and may we dedicate ourselves to continuing the work of building God’s shalom of love, harmony, and  justice. Amen.


Holy Name  January 1, 2017

Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:15-21

Today is Holy Name Day, January 1. We do not often get to celebrate this feast day because it falls on a Sunday only occasionally. On this day, when he was eight days old, Jesus officially received his name, the name that was given to him by the angel who told Joseph that this child  was the child of God.

Our first reading is the beautiful and powerful blessing from the Book of Numbers. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” God tells Aaron that this is the way in which God is going to put God’s name on God’s people. This is a blessing full of God’s love for us. It is a blessing full of God’s light and love and peace.

Our psalm today is a song of praise and thanks to God, who has given us stewardship over the world God has made.

In our reading from his Letter to the Galatians, Paul gives a brief but powerful summary of our faith. God sent his Son to free us from the bonds of the law and give us grace. God has adopted us as God’s own children so that we can call God “Daddy” or  “Mom.” Because of God’s love and grace, we are on the most intimate terms with God.

In our reading from Luke’s gospel, the angels have come to tell the shepherds the good news of the Birth of Jesus. Shepherds were not high on the social scale. Their work was dangerous and often dirty and difficult. But it is to these ordinary, lowly, common people that God sent the angels to share this joyous news.

So it is the shepherds who bring the good tidings to Mary and Joseph. They go to Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in the manger, and they tell Mary and Joseph what they have heard from the angels. The gospel tells us that “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” The angel Gabriel had already told her who this child was. Now she was hearing about this from the shepherds, who had heard the message from a multitude of angels.

There was so much to absorb. She and Joseph would be responsible for bringing up the child of God. What a profound responsibility that was! Very soon, they would have to take Jesus to Egypt to protect him from Herod. There was much to think about. As we meditate on Mary thinking about the meaning of all this, We can imagine that she asked for God’s help and grace to do the best she possibly could do in the joyful but also challenging ministry.

And we can also imagine that she. who was courageous and wise, knew that, with a king like Herod, there could be danger. And we can imagine that she asked God for courage. We know that she showed almost superhuman courage and faithfulness when the worst of the worst happened to her Son. Mary became a faithful disciple of her Son. She stood at the foot of the cross and she waited with the others for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The shepherds return to their work, exhilarated with the joy of having actually seen this extraordinary little baby and his earthly parents. Eight days later, Jesus received his name. Gene M. Tucker of Candler School of Theology at Emory University tells us, The name Jesus is a form of the name Joshua, which means ‘salvation from Jehovah.” Tucker notes that Jesus has already been called the savior of his people when the angel Gabriel was speaking with Mary.  

At our baptisms, we receive our names, and we receive our formal welcome as children of God and members of the Body of Christ. We receive the anointing with the oil of Chrism as the sign of the cross is made on our foreheads, marking us as Christ’s own forever.

In baptism we are made inheritors of the kingdom of God. We receive the blessings of God which were conferred so long ago in our first reading and we are made children of God in a very loving and intimate way, as described in our epistle.

Our readings today are full of blessings and gifts. The blessing of God’s love is so deep and so broad that, try as we will, we will never be able to fathom it or understand it. God’s love for us is so immense. It is beyond our comprehension. God has given us the whole world full of all its wonders and graces and gifts.

God has come to be with us—God with us, Emmanuel. Our loving God, full of grace and truth, has come to be with us and to show us the way. He marks us as his own beloved children. He takes us onto his lap and cherishes us. He leads us through the brambles and briars of life as our Good Shepherd.

Today, as we celebrate his receiving his name, we also remember that he knows each of us by name, and loves us, and leads us. These are Christmas gifts beyond measure. May God be praised, and may we be forever grateful. Amen.

Trinity Sunday Year C RCL May 22, 2016

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

Our opening lesson on this Trinity Sunday is about Wisdom. The concept of Wisdom is found in the Hebrew Scriptures and also in the literature of ancient lands near Israel. She is seen as feminine, and she was the first thing created by God. She assisted God in the creation of the world. She was “beside him, as master worker.”

In this ancient text, the idea of the  Christian Trinity had not yet been thought of, but Wisdom is often associated with Jesus because John’s gospel describes Jesus as the logos, the word, who called the creation into being, and that is very similar to Wisdom, who was “beside God as a master worker.” Wisdom, or Sophia, is also associated with the Holy Spirit, who is often seen as feminine. Commentator Douglas M. Donley writes, “Wisdom is the Holy Spirit personified.” Wisdom tells us how delighted she and God were during the process of creation. The creation was and is an action of joy.

Our epistle tells us that we have been justified by faith. Justified means that we have been placed in right relationship with God. Our Lord Jesus Christ has done this for us. He has come to be one of us and he has made it possible for us to be as close to God as a child is to his or her beloved parent. We receive the gift of faith and the gift of grace, and through these gifts our suffering leads to endurance. We are actually strengthened through our sufferings. We are able to persevere through hardships because of God’s love and grace. That endurance produces character. We become stronger, and our faith and our awareness of God’s grace grow. And that character, that strength, that ability to hang in there, that growing awareness of God’s love and God’s gifts of faith and grace, all work together to give us hope, and that hope lasts and lasts and never ends because God’s love is pouring into us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In our gospel for today, we are with Jesus during his Farewell Discourse, his last teaching time with the apostles. He says something that is so poignant and so bittersweet. He says, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Oh, these words take our breath away.

He can’t tell them what is going to happen. He is going to be arrested; he will go through a mock trial; he will be beaten; he will be crucified; he will rise again. If he tried to tell them about these things, they would not believe him. They are going to have to live through these events.

And then Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth….He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Think of what the disciples went through. Jesus was crucified. Some of them ran away. They were devastated. But then he began to appear to them. Here and there. They realized he was alive. But then he ascended to be with God. And there they were, without him.

He had promised to send the Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost the Spirit arrived like a nighty wind, like the desert ruach, like flames dancing over their heads. And they were able to communicate with people from all over the known world in the languages of those people.

And then, as they went out to spread the Good News, we read in the Book of Acts about how the Spirit guided them to choose Matthias to join them and how the Spirit led them to meet with this person and to go to that town. The Spirit has continued to guide God’s people down to this very day.

“God in three persons, blessed Trinity,” the beloved hymn says. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, or Sustainer. John Macquarie says that the Trinity involves vision, plan, and realization of the plan. God has the vision of creation. Jesus is the Word, the logos, the plan, the pattern for creation and for human life. Jesus, the Word, calls the creation into being. And the Holy Spirit brings forth and energizes the creation. God at work in us and in the world.

In her sermon, “Three Hands Clapping, “Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “Robert Farrar Capon says that when human beings try to describe God we are like a bunch of oysters trying to describe a ballerina. We simply do not have the equipment to understand something so utterly beyond us, but that has never stopped us from trying.”  (Taylor, Home by Another Way, p. 153.)

God comes to us in so many ways.

Each of us knows God as Creator. We go out at night and look at the sky, or we gaze on a meadow filled with wildflowers, or we watch the first light and then the sunrise, and  we marvel and give thanks.

Each of us knows Jesus, the Christ, our Redeemer. Every year, we sink more deeply into the unfathomable mystery of what he has done for us and how he leads us into new life. So often, some aspect of his life and ministry teaches us something new about sharing his love and healing. Every day. something he said or did gives direction to our lives. Every day, we meet the risen Christ or we see him out in front, leading us.

Each of us senses and knows the power of the Spirit, God at work in us and in our world. A skilled surgeon restores sight to an eye. Compassionate listening heals a broken heart. After much prayer, a direction becomes clear. A wise person sits down with nations that have been at war and helps them to walk the path to a lasting peace.

The concept of mysterium, mystery, something that is far beyond our ability to comprehend, is a wonderful thing. We may never understand the doctrine of the Trinity, and yet we can walk closely with God every minute of our lives.

“God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”  Amen.

Trinity Sunday Year C RCL May 26, 2013

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

Today we celebrate the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or in gender neutral language, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Theologian John Macquarrie has a wonderful concept of the Trinity. He says that whenever we are going to create something, there is a vision of that creation, a plan for how to create it, and  then there is the realization of that plan.

Macquarrie says that God has a vision for the creation, Jesus is the plan for creation, he is the Word, the logos, the blueprint, pattern for human life. He is the One who calls the creation into being, and that the Holy Spirit brings about the realization of the plan. The Holy Spirit is God at work in us and in the world.

In the back of our Prayer Book, there is a Catechism. On page 846, there is the section on God the Father. It’s in a question and answer format. I will read the questions, Please respond with the answers.

Q. What do we learn about God as Creator from the revelation to Israel?
A. We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

Q. What does this mean?
A. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it.

Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe?
A. It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called   to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God’s purposes.

Q. What does this mean about human life?
A. It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.

Q. How was this revelation handed down to us?
A. This revelation was handed down to us through a community created  by a covenant with God.

On page 849, we have the section on God the Son,.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
A. We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.

Q.  What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God’s own act, his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.

Q. Why did he take our human nature?
A. The divine Son became human, so that in him, human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God’s kingdom.

Q. What is the great importance of Jesus’ suffering and death?
A. By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.

Q.  What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection?
A.  By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way to eternal life.

Q. What do we mean when we say that he descended to the dead?
A.  We mean that he went to the departed and offered them the benefits of redemption.

Q.  What do we mean when we say that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A.  We mean that Jesus took our human nature into heaven where he now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us.

Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death?
A.  We share in his victory when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.

On page 852, we have the section on the Holy Spirit.

Q. Who is the Holy Spirit?
A. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now.

Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.

Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.

Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.

–That is God’s shalom. When the whole creation is in harmony, God’s vision will be fully realized. That is what we are working for.

God in three persons—blessed Trinity. We experience God in these three ways, when we look at the beauty of creation, from a vast galaxy to the smallest little flower. When we write a poem or sing, or play an instrument, or do anything creative—build a cabinet, scrub a floor, take out a splinter, balance the books, listen to someone who is hurting, then we are experiencing God the Creator and we are being co-creators with God.

God the Son, our Redeemer, the One who frees us, who rescues us from sin. We are going around and around on our little hamster wheel, stuck in a never-ending circle of pride or wrath or envy or greed or lust or gluttony or sloth or addiction or fear or any of the things that can ensnare us and make us feel hopeless. And then he is there, reaching out with love and forgiveness, showing us the way out, freeing us to be the persons he calls us to be. That is Jesus, our Savior.

And the Holy Spirit. You can’t see the Spirit, but you can see the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness. and self-control. The Spirit is the One who is with us as Jesus reaches out in love and healing and gives us the energy to have hope once again, to get back on the journey. The Spirit is God at work within us and in the world. God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, are working mightily in Moore, Oklahoma right now, and all over our world, and right here, in us and among us.

God in three persons, blessed Trinity. May God’s Name be praised forever and ever.                Amen.

Trinity Sunday June 19, 2011

Trinity Sunday Year A RCL June 19, 2011

Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8
2 Corinthians 13: 11-13
Matthew 28: 16-20

We celebrate this morning Trinity Sunday, and this gives us the opportunity to try to clarify the doctrine of the Trinity, which tells us that God reveals Godself to us in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

 In our reading from the Book of Genesis about the creation of the world, there is a great joy. God is creating this wonderful world for the love of it, and we notice that, after each stage of creation, there is a refrain, a very positive refrain—“And God saw that it was good.” The creation is good and we are created as good people. Our other two readings today emphasize the love of God in three persons and our vocation to spread that love.

 Robert Farrar Capon, an Episcopal priest and theologian, captures the spirit of the creation better than anyone I know. For our newer members, there is a tradition here at Grace, a tradition started by our beloved brother in Christ, the Rev. David Walters, who served Grace for twelve years. The tradition is the reading of the creation passage from Capon’s book, The Third Peacock.

 “Let me tell you why God created the world. One afternoon, before anything was made, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit sat around in the unity of their Godhead discussing one of the Father’s fixations. From all eternity, it seems he had this thing about being. He would keep thinking of all kinds of unnecessary things—new ways of being and new kinds of beings to be. And as they talked God the Son suddenly said, ‘Really, this is absolutely great stuff. Why don’t I go out and mix us up a batch? And God the Holy Spirit said, ‘Terrific, I’ll help you. So they all pitched in, and, after supper that night, the Son and the Holy Spirit put on this tremendous show of being for the Father. It was full of water and light and frogs; pine cones kept dripping all over the place and crazy fish swam around in the wineglasses. There were mushrooms and grapes, horseradishes and tigers—and men and women and children everywhere to taste them, to juggle them, to join them, and to love them. And God the Father looked at the whole wild party and he said, “Wonderful! Just what I had in mind. Very, vcry good. And they laughed for ages and ages saying how great it was for beings to be, and how clever of the Father to think of the idea and how kind of the Son to go to all the trouble putting it together, and how considerate of the Spirit to spend all that time directing and choreographing. And forever and ever they said how wonderful and good it was.” Capon reminds us that this process is going on all the time. God is constantly creating. There was not just one “celestial bash,” as he puts it. Capon writes,

What happens is not that the Trinity manufactures the first duck and then the ducks take over the business and a kind of cottage industry, it is that every duck is a response to the creative act of God. God the Father thinks up duck #47307 for the month of June AD 2011, God the Spirit rushes over the edge of the formless void and, with unutterable groanings broods duck #47307 and over his brooding God the Son, triumphantly shouts, ‘Duck #47307!’ And presto, you have a duck. Not one, you will note, tossed up in some response to a mindless decree, but one neatly fielded in a game of delight. The world is not God’s surplus inventory of artifacts. It is a whole barrelful of the apples of God’s eye, constantly juggled, relished, and exchanged by the persons of the Trinity. No wonder we love circuses, games, and magic. They prove we are in the image of God.”

 Now I want to share with you the theology of a man named John Macquarrie, an Anglican theologian who uses an analogy to explain the Trinity.  Vision, plan, realization of the plan.  Let’s take a work of art, say, a novel. The artist has a vision. She plans the book. There will be this or that character and these characters and there will be this situation and these events and so forth. Then the author writes the novel. God the Father is the author. He has the vision of creation. God the Son is the plan, the Word, the logos, the model, the blueprint for human life. By coming among us and living his life, and by his teaching and preaching, he gave us the details of how life should be lived. God the Spirit brings about the full realization of God’s vision and plan. The Spirit is God at work in us and in the world. The kingdom, the vision, the shalom of God is not yet complete, but it is in process, It is growing. We are called to be co-creators to bring in the shalom of God.

 Another way to think of the Trinity is God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God, the Sanctifier. God the Creator, transcendent and holy, yet immanent, within us, near us.

 God the redeemer. Christ. God walking among us. Immanuel. We can enter into the shalom of God right now by living the life in Christ, aligning ourselves with the vision of God’s kingdom, which is even now growing like the mustard seed or like the invisible yeast in the dough.

 God the Sanctifier—the Holy Spirit. Often, especially in the Eastern Church, the Spirit is associated with Wisdom and is seen as feminine. The reign of God has begun but is not yet complete. The Spirit is the one who is bringing it to completion.

 God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Sanctifier. Vision, Plan, Realization of the Plan. Three persons who are one, three aspects, three ways in which God reveals Godself to us. And God’s joy in the creation, God saw that it was good.

 God’s loving creative energy. What a wonderful thing to celebrate. What an amazing thing to be part of. The Holy Trinity is the original model of Community. And what a team they are. The joy and mutuality and encouragement with which they do the ongoing work of creation is our model for how to live in community.