Opera Gala and Reception: Saturday 08.13.2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Postcard Front

2016 Sunset Music & Ats Opera gala returns with artists from the San Francisco Opera Chorus: Aimée Puentes, soprano; Sally Porter Munro, mezzo-soprano; Colby Roberts, tenor; Frederick Matthews, baritone. Dr. Bryan Baker accompanies on the piano. This popular annual event will feature songs and arias from opera and musical theater. A free reception follows the concert.

Date: Saturday August 13, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1750 29th Avenue, San Francisco
Tickets: $30 General, $25 Seniors/Students
Buy tickets online. (Tickets available at the door if not sold out.)

For more information visit http://sunsetarts.wordpress.com

Artists:
Aimée Puentes, soprano, has sung leading opera roles including, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Despina in Così fan tutte, Micäela in Carmen, Sister Constance in Dialogues des Carmélites, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Musetta in La Boheme, Nannetta in Falstaff, Valencienne in The Merry Widow, Paquette in Candide, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. She has performed with the San Francisco Opera, Arizona Opera, Pensacola Opera, New Orleans Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera San Jose, Opera Southwest, West Bay Opera and Sacramento Opera.

Sally Porter Munro (mezzo-soprano) is a native of London, England and a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England. While living in England she sang with the English National Opera, Royal Opera de la Monnaie in Brussels, and as an oratorio soloist in Europe. She also performed with the BBC Singers on radio and television. She is a full time member of The San Francisco Opera Chorus and has covered and sung a number of small roles. Ms. Munro has sung as a soloist with Pocket Opera, Berkeley Opera, North Bay Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, and Lake Tahoe Festival.

Tenor Colby Roberts has sung with opera companies throughout the country, including Orlando Opera, National Grand Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, New York Grand Opera and New Jersey State Opera and has been part of the chorus with San Francisco Opera for over 30 years. His concert performances have taken him across the United States, and to Europe and Israel. Bay Area credits include performances with San Francisco Lyric Opera where he sang Alfredo in La Traviata, the title roles in Werther and Andrea Chenier, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and Cavaradossi in Tosca.

Frederick Matthews (baritone) has been praised by audiences and critics alike for his appearances on the operatic and concert stages. International recognition came while on tour singing the role of “Jake” in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, when it was reported that he “projected evenly balanced singing and left an exquisite stage impression.” (Neue Presse – Augsburg, Germany) Now residing in the Bay Area, he has been seen in a variety of solo and bit parts with the San Francisco Opera.

Leave a comment

Filed under Special Event

Greed: A Deadly Disease

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings for July 31, 2016

Years ago, when my cousin Leah was three or four years old, my mother was babysitting her. And Leah noticed a Snickers bar on the counter. She asked if she could have it. My mother explained that it was the last candy bar and that she would split the bar 50/50 with her, each getting exactly half. Now, my mother wasn’t about to hand a paring knife to a child. Instead, she took the knife and asked Leah to point to the exact middle of the candy bar. She said she would cut where Leah pointed. Now, the bar was about five inches long, but Leah pointed about half an inch from one end. My mother asked her, “Leah, are you sure that is the middle, that both halves are exactly the same size?” Leah nodded. Then my mother cut the bar at that point and quickly snatched the larger piece. Leah cried, but she learned a lesson about greed. Now, this story of my cousin is charming, but it is also instructive: we learn that greed infects us early on!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons

The ACTS of Prayer

A sermon preached by Christopher L. Webber at the Church of the Incarnation, San Francisco, on July 20, 2016.

Lectionary Readings

Years ago we had a quiet day at the church where I was serving. We had a member of the Order of the Holy Cross to lead us and her theme was prayer and she told us a story I still remember. She said she had been re-assigned at some point by her order to another convent and it was quite a while before she saw some of her friends again. Then she happened to be at a meeting where there was one member of the order whom she hadn’t seen in quite a while and they greeted each other warmly and the nun who was telling the story said, she began by saying: “Oh, it’s so good to see you you look wonderful, I’m sorry I haven’t made more of an effort to keep in touch but I do appreciate the Christmas card you sent. And listen, now that you’re here, I wonder whether you can do something for me . . .” And she told us that she stopped at that point because she suddenly realized that she was going through the basic forms of prayer.

One handy way of remembering the various forms of prayer is a mnemonic device: the word ACTS – a-c-t-s – ACTS. There are four basic types of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. She had used them all: Adoration: “You look wonderful.” Confession: “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch.” Thanksgiving: “Thanks for the card. And Supplication: “Could you do something for me.?”

So that’s a full life of prayer and I wonder how many Christians have that full a prayer life. I’m sure lots of people get the “S” word taken care of: supplicating, asking God for things. We get in a mess and we cry for help. And that’s OK, that’s the S word, supplication, and we ought to use it. We need help, we know God can help, so we pray.

But I wonder how many ever get beyond supplication: asking for something for ourselves or for daily breadothers. Prayer often does begin that way and that’s alright, but it’s only a beginning and it’s not a very complete relationship. We all begin there. We begin there with all our relationships. A baby is hungry and cries for milk. That’s basic. But as we grow, we get more sophisticated in our inter-personal relationships. We learn about the C word: confession. Somewhere along the line, we get taught to “Tell your brother you’re sorry you kicked him.” So we learn, reluctantly, about confession.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s OK to be Mary!

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Gospel Reading

This week a preacher is presented with an embarrassment of riches. We have the great Old Testament story of Abraham’s hospitality to the Lord in the form of three travelers, a famous proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity. We have the reading from Colossians, which begins with an awe-inspiring hymn about the Cosmic Christ. And we have the familiar, but disturbing, story of Martha and Mary, found in Luke’s Gospel. Well, taking into account the overwork that I regularly witness in this parish, I have decided to focus on those five verses from Luke.

The story is short. The details are sparse. And most annoyingly, the point of the story is not readily apparent. The result is that biblical exegetes throughout the last two millennia have offered a wide variety of interpretations.

Our early Christian ancestors were fond of so-called “spiritual” interpretations. One Church Father by the name of Origen explained the story of Martha and Mary as an allegory contrasting the contemplative life (represented by Mary) with active life in the world (represented by Martha). While not excluding some value to a more literal interpretation, he thought that this story was included in the New Testament to encourage Christians who wanted to advance in spiritual attainment to abandon the world for either life in a monastery or life in a cave. St. Augustine, another advocate of allegorical interpretation, taught that Martha represented our current life in this world, where we suffer worry and distraction, and that Mary represented life in the Kingdom of God, where our carefree life will be focused solely on God.

My sense is that we here today might benefit more from a literal interpretation of this story. So let’s take a closer look at this story of a dinner party gone wrong.

image

 

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons

Proclaiming the Good News—Let Us Not Grow Weary

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Lectionary Readings

Today’s Gospel starts out with Jesus’ appointing precisely 70 evangelists to go out ahead of him preaching the Good News, for Jesus knows that he can’t do it all alone. Why 70, you might ask? Well, it turns out that in the book of Genesis, 70 is given as the number of Gentile nations in the world. So, there is a symbolic and prophetic reason for Jesus’ picking this exact number of evangelists; it represents the extension of his mission to the Gentiles—in other words, to people like most of us! I say it was an extension of Jesus’ mission, because in Luke 9, Jesus had already sent out the twelve apostles to spread the Good News among the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke tells us that Jesus sends out his evangelists to the Gentiles in pairs. And there are several possible reasons for this. One obvious reason would be mutual support. But another might have to do with the fact that in Jewish law, valid testimony requires two witnesses. And these evangelists, we are told, will be testifying for the Kingdom of God, as well as testifying against those towns that refuse to accept the Good News of God’s Kingdom. (As an aside, the Episcopal Church also encourages sending out home visitors two by two, but in this case it is to prevent misbehavior during home visitations.)

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons

Set Free to Love

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Lectionary Readings

On April 25, 1993, Mathew and I attended the LGBT March on Washington. That Sunday, we worshiped at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, the so-called “church of the presidents.” Some 800,000 people were gathered right outside the doors of that church. Yet, the preacher never once mentioned the event. And the only hint that anything was going on outside was in the Prayers of the People, where there was a brief intercession for “those who struggle for justice.” I left dismayed and disappointed by that particular Episcopal church. While today’s sermon is not exactly a Pride Day homily, I don’t intend to repeat the mistake of that preacher in 1993. About one million people will line Market Street today to celebrate Pride Day. This celebration will remember the advances made in the 47 years since Stonewall, as well as the tragedies along the way, such as the massacre just two weeks ago in Orlando. Undoubtedly, there will be a continuing reminder that the AIDS epidemic is still with us. I am proud to say that our bishop will be marching in the parade, and Episcopalians will be marching alongside other Christians to spread the message that God’s love is more inclusive than we can even imagine.

But enough about Pride Day! Let’s take a look at today’s scriptures. The reading from First Kings is about the calling of Elisha to be an apprentice prophet. It’s helpful to recall the context. Elijah was tired to the point of despair, and he had been sentenced in absentia to death. So, he sat down under a tree and prayed for a swift and painless release from life. Instead, God gave him a mission: first to anoint new kings for Israel and Aram, and then to anoint a successor for himself. Elijah obeyed…sort of! Instead of anointing the two kings, he sought out his successor first and ordained him as his apprentice by placing his cloak over him. The anointing of the two kings would have to wait—for Elijah needed his helper!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons

Of Demons and Disunity

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Lectionary Reading

I don’t know about you, but my heart is still broken by the massacre in Orlando. I hear stories about a man who sang in a Gospel choir, another man who worked in a local blood bank, two men who faithfully served their country in the Army Reserves, an 18-year-old woman who graduated high school just the week before her murder…. The list goes on. Good people died, and the nations mourns. But the nation does not unite. Yes, after September 11 some 15 years ago, the nation did unite for a time. But not now.

Recently, a county commissioner in Alabama defied the proclamation of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to lower the flag in mourning. Why? Because he thinks that to mourn is to be weak. On an Episcopal Church blog, a man refuses to pray for the President of the United States by name, because he just can’t stand Barack Obama. Another person on that same religious blog criticizes a litany against gun violence (not against gun ownership, mind you, but against gun violence!), because if God fulfilled the prayer he might have to give up his guns. Democrats look at the massacre in Orlando and see a case of domestic gun violence by a mentally unstable man. Republicans look at that same massacre and see foreign terrorism at work. And so they defy each other and block any real change. The truth, of course, as it often is, is lost somewhere in the middle.

Why, you may well ask, do I bring up all this mess at church? What on earth does it have to do with the lectionary readings? Well, let’s look at those readings.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons

Opera Double Bill: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci

A Sunset Music | Arts and Verismo Opera joint presentation.

Enjoy a comedic romp through Gianni Schicchi with a cunning con artist that tricks the greedy Donati family who are fighting over their dying relative’s estate.  Laugh and weep with Canio, the clown, over the tragedy of a love triangle in Pagliacci.  Both operas are full of gorgeous and well-known music, such as: O mio babbino caro and Vesti la giubba (the clown who cries behind his makeup).

Date & Time: Saturday June 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1750 29th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
Tickets: $25 General, $20 Seniors/Students
Limited Seating. Reserve your tickets online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/opera-double-bill-pagliacci-and-gianni-schicchi-tickets-25448481092

For additional information visit http://sunsetarts.wordpress.com or call (415) 564-2324

Verismo Opera

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Special Event

Channels of God’s Compassion and Mercy

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Lectionary Reading

If you’re very keen-eyed, you may have noticed that our lectionary inserts now say “Track 2,” instead of “Track 1.” The difference between the two tracks is that in Track 2, the Old Testament readings during Ordinary Time are chosen to complement the Gospel reading, while in Track 1, the Old Testament readings have no connection at all with the Gospel reading. Today, the Old Testament reading and the Gospel reading not only complement each other, they look like carbon copies. Each is the story of the resuscitation of a widow’s only son. But there are differences, and these differences are significant.

In First Kings, Elijah, as you may recall, is a refugee in the town of Zarepath, in the Gentile kingdom of Phoenicia. He is abiding with a widow and her son. When he arrived at their door, he found them starving due to a drought. Having been promised that God would provide, the woman fed Elijah with the last of her food. God rewarded her generosity by providing a miraculous never-ending supply of flour and olive oil. All seemed well. Then disaster strikes. The woman’s only son dies. This would be a tragedy in any culture. But it was even more so in ancient Israel. A widow with no male heir lost all her property to her husband’s family. And unless her deceased husband had a brother who was willing to marry her, she would be homeless and destitute. In a real sense, the death of the woman’s son was her death sentence as well.

The widow of Zarepath accuses Elijah and his God. (Now I say “his God,” because the woman was most probably a Gentile worshiper of Baal.) Elijah is a bit panicked. And he too accuses God of a betrayal. But he conquers his doubt and performs an action that could be considered either a prophetic sign, a medical procedure, or a magical rite. He covers the body of the dead child three times with his own body, all the time praying to God to revive the boy. And God shows mercy and returns the child to life. This is the first resuscitation story.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons

Stand by Your Man

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Gospel Reading

tumblr_inline_o6iniex31n1stad8p_400

We finding ourselves nearing the end of Eastertide. Just two more weeks to go. This coming Thursday is Ascension Day, when the Church commemorates the final farewell of the Risen Christ. The feast of Pentecost is on the 15th, when we will commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Today, it seems, we are meant to look ahead to these two events and to prepare. I suppose that’s why the editors of the lectionary offer a Gospel reading from the farewell discourse at the Last Supper. Because, in this brief excerpt from that long discourse, Jesus tries to prepare his original disciples for his imminent departure from this world and for the sending of the Holy Spirit.

Inexplicably, the editors of the lectionary have omitted the question which prefaces today’s Gospel reading: “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” For Jesus had just stated that in a little while the world would no longer see him, but his disciples would see him. As Jesus is wont to do, he offers a response to a question that is not exactly an answer: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Now, he could have just explained that he had been talking about his future Resurrection appearances to the faithful. But instead of answering Judas’ question, Jesus says what he thinks needs to be said. He asks his closest disciples to keep his word, to follow his teachings, to be obedient to his commandments—in short, to stand by him, even when he is gone.

Jesus puts before his disciples a test of their faithfulness: if they love him, they will show it by following the love ethic at the heart of his every word and action. They will love God. The will love their brothers and sisters in Christ. They will love the stranger. They will even love their enemy. Now, by love, Jesus didn’t mean affection. Love for Jesus was less of an emotion and more of an action. You show your love when you feed the hungry. You show your love when you visit the sick. You show your love when you acknowledge the homeless beggar, even if you can’t spare a dime. You show your love when you come to church week after week, even when you feel exhausted. And last but not least, you show your love when you vote for a leader who cares about the weak and welcomes the refugee.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recent Sermons