Clergy and laity from the diocese gathered at Holy Family Church in Fresno for the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week. We were blessed by the presence of The Rev’d Michael Blacklund, who has just moved to Angels Camp and attending St James in Sonora, The Rev’d Christian Hagan from Sierra Leone, who is living in Stockton and attending St Anne’s, and the Rev’d Tuoa Vang from Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in St Paul, MN, who is doing outreach ministry from their Hmong congregation to the Hmong people of our diocese.
We began the celebration of the Eucharist with silent prayer for those victims, responders, and perpetrators of the acts of violence in Brussels earlier in the day. Bp David reminded us that the way of Christ is the way of reconciliation and wholeness, not of vengeance.
In his homily, Bp David reminded us that we are all called to serve Christ in the world, not just in our cozy part of it. We are to be instruments that promote Christ’s reconciling word in the midst of a world that increasingly resorts to separation, anger, and violence. Bp David read the statement issued by the Episcopal Bishops (Episcopal Bishops Issue A Word to the Church), who recently met for their annual Spring meeting. During this Holy Week, it is a reminder that Jesus was executed by the powers that be, religious leaders, occupying Roman Forces, and political leaders, who found his message too uncomfortable, since it challenge the status quo.
As leaders in the church in the Central Valley, we are called to get out of our comfort zone and be present to God’s presence around us, in those parts of society where we have not been visible before.