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The Big Picture

A sermon preached at the Church of the Incarnation, San Francisco, by Christopher L. Webber on January 3, 2016

For a printable pdf version click here.

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people …”

“Fear not … good tidings of great joy …” That was last week’s news, the Christmas story. This week’s news is different. This time the angel says, “Run for your life; Herod is after you; get out while the getting is good.” So they flee for their lives, they escape to Egypt, and when they are told that it’s safe to come back they don’t dare return to Bethlehem but they go instead to Nazareth in far off Galilee – California, you might say, instead of Washington – away from the corridors of power, out of the public eye, a place not quite so dangerous, and there Jesus will grow up.

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But once he begins his ministry, of course, the fear is right back, the looming threat of death; the powers that be are alarmed and plans are made to deal with this upstart and the path leads to crucifixion and death. “Fear not … I bring you good tidings of great joy.” That was last week. Last week we could have presents under a tree. This week it’s back to work, paying the bills, reading the headlines: mass shootings, refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, turned away at the border, but trying somehow, anyhow, to escape the violence around them. This week we are back to news of air pollution so severe life is suspended in major cities, news of storms sweeping away roads and homes, reports of a changing climate that threatens the fabric of our civilization, and a looming election with candidates playing to our fears, not our hopes.

“Fear not … tidings of great joy.” No wonder church attendance is down. The message seems more and more out of sync with the world around us. And no wonder so many politicians are finding acceptance for a message that says, “Be afraid; be very afraid.” Close the borders; be afraid of Mexicans, be afraid of refugees. Be afraid.

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Bishop of San Diego responds to San Bernardino shootings

bishops-march

From the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego:

Keep Watch, Dear Lord

As we learn about the violence in San Bernardino, our first response is to go down on our knees and pray for those who have been killed or wounded. We pray for families and communities that are broken and scarred by senseless violence once again.

As disciples of Jesus, we are those who see the image of God in every human being. In the hours and days ahead, we learn more about what is already a profound tragedy. To underscore how close this travesty hits, I have learned from the Rev. Andrew Green that one of his parishioners from St. Paul-in-the-Desert, Palm Springs was present at the facility and is now safe.

There will be time to ponder the deeper implications and our response to this moment, but this night let us pray deeply that God may assuage the sorrows of those most harmed by today’s evil.

I wish you blessings and peace this night.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 124

Three gunmen have killed 14 people and injured 17 or more at a social services facility in San Bernardino, California.

Source: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/bishop-of-san-diego-responds-to-san-bernardino-shootings/

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Prayers for the victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting

GunViolence

Please join us to pray for an end to gun violence in our communities at our monthly Taizé service tonight (7:30 p.m.) at The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation.

Prayers for the victims, families, and the community of the Umpqua Community College shooting and other victims of gun violence. For additional details visit http://www.incarnationsf.org or call 415.564.2324

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