Xenophobia by Bob Wickizer

Xenophobia
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 56:1 [2-5]6-7; Psalm 67; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
15 August, 1999

Sermon preached at: St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, High Point, NC & St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Thomasville, NC

While vacationing on one of the islands a few weeks ago, some friends from California flew out to visit us. When we returned to our home in High Point, my California friend was intrigued when she discovered that we did not subscribe to any morning newspaper. She knew that while we were in Boston I devoured the New York Times and Boston Globe. She knew that while we lived in Silicon Valley I read the San Jose Mercury News. But all I could offer by way of explanation at the time she challenged me was a sheepish, "After I work out at the YMCA in the mornings, I usually read one of the local papers and the Wall Street Journal and besides I also learn a lot about the news from National Public Radio." But I knew there was more to my newspaper reticence than I could explain - until today's Gospel fell on my lap.

You see I had become a news hermit. I don't want to know about shootings in Atlanta, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Littleton, Chicago, Seattle or wherever. I don't want to see more mass graves in Kosovo or mutilated victims in Sierra Leone. I don't want to know that a mass killer had been apprehended a year ago and then released or that part of the staff at a Jewish recreational center in a sleepy suburb of LA had their lives spared last week because they were off site attending a seminar on - toleration. Isn't that ironic, sad and amazing? While part of the staff was away learning how to tolerate others, four children and one staff person were shot with nine-millimeter bullets. But why do we need to hear these things?

The news has become overwhelming. It's too much to take. I just want to do my job. Crawl into my shell and only come out when I have to. Isn't it enough to be a good priest, do my job, take care of my ...


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