December 2008


Every time I hear about violence escalating between Israel and the Palestinians I’m saddened, but not surprised.  There is a cycle of violence there that’s going to be very hard to break.  There has been so much harm done there by both sides that it is hard to see how that cycle can be broken.  Conditions for the Palestinians are so bad, imprisoned in a refugee camp that has been ongoing for well over 50 years, that it seems many people there just want to reach out and hurt someone in Israel.  It doesn’t seem to matter who.  For the Israelis, living with the constant threat of ongoing terror attack, they just want the problem stopped.  So they go after the people doing this to them with overwhelming force.  Who go after them in retaliation the only way they can.  And the cycle continues.

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With all that’s been happening these last couple of days in the Middle East, I want to share the following Christmas Letter from my bishop, Barry Beisner, of the Diocese of Northern California:

Dear Friends in Christ:

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Some people talk about God’s power.  For them, that’s the most important thing about God.  God is all powerful and all knowing and, when you come right down to it, completely overpowering.  And being in the presence of God can be overpowering.  But, for me, that is not one of the more important things about God.  At least, it’s not where my relationship with God starts.

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I’ll be leaving for vacation Christmas Day, after a 10 am service at St. Andrew’s in Antelope.  I’ve been there these past two years half time, and at St. George’s half time.  That’s my final official duty at St. Andrew’s.  When I return from vacation, I will be serving only at St. George’s once again.

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Hey, nobody asked me.  But it seems crazy to allow folks to sue good samaritans acting in good faith.  Often, we’re talking life and death decisions that have to be made in the blink of an eye.  And sure, mistakes will be made.  But I would rather have someone helping me in my need than leaving me waiting for the arrival of some professional when my life was on the line.  Jesus invites us to make and care for our neighbors as we see them in need.  And it makes sense to me that we would follow his invitation, and be the one to help our neighbor in need.

I’ve started working on my sermon for Sunday.  I find the lessons pretty interesting.  In our first reading (II Samuel 7:1-11, 16) we find King David trying to use God to shore up his emerging dynasty.  David has secured his hold over both the northern and southern kingdoms, unifying them for the first time.  His personal army has also just secured Jerusalem, a new addition that had not been part of either kingdom.  David has built his house of (expensive) cedar in Jerusalem, which will become known as the city of David.  And he decides he’s like to house the ark of God, which has traveled with the people in a tent since the exodus, in a permanent temple.

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We have struggled, at St. George’s, to find our nitch in the community.

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