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June 13, 2008
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be read in many churches this Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMos. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the church's service to the poor and those who suffer from the effects of poverty and war, deals with an aspect of Episcopal Relief and Development's ministry. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.

Snakes and Pigeons

See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Matthew 10:16

Well, all right. But the truth is, snakes aren't all that smart. They're just quiet, so people think they're smart.

And doves aren't all that innocent, either. We've got several regulars at our feeders, and every last one of them would run over her own mother for a sunflower seed. Doves don't symbolize peace to each other. Only to us. They're pigeons, for heaven's sake.

But let's grant Jesus a little poetic license and see what he's up to. This is a passage about how to conduct oneself in a hostile and corrupt environment. It's not going to be enough to be in the right, not if you want to prevail. You also have to be smart.

Religious people are sometimes reluctant to be strategic about their lives -- they're afraid it'll look like they don't trust God if they plan ahead. So they look for signs of the divine will, wait for special deep feelings of rightness. And sometimes, in doing so, they discount the plain testimony of their own common sense.

Trusting God doesn't mean it's okay to stop thinking now. If you're going to live in the world, you will brush up against evil, and it's important to know how evil works and how it thinks. Absolutely yes, God's going to carry you to heaven in the end. But a lot can happen between now and then, and people of faith need to use every tool we have, including our own intelligence, to make what happens as good as it can be.

Pentecost V, Proper 6, Year A
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)
Psalm 116: 1, 10-17
Exodus 19:2-8a
Psalm 100

Romans 5:1-8
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23


And here is the ERD meditation:

Casting Out a Demon in Honduras

Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Matthew 10:8

Here is the story of Johanna, an HIV-positive woman in Honduras:

A brand-new mother, Johanna was so profoundly weakened by her illness that she couldn't walk or even see. How could she care for a newborn?

“I was so sick my family carried me to Siempre Unidos (Always Together),” says Johanna. Siempre Unidos, working closely with Episcopal Relief & Development and the Diocese of Honduras, operates three clinics for HIV-positive people, providing medical care, AIDS education and screening, and opportunities for employment. Soon, thanks to the anti-retroviral drugs she received at Siempre Unidos, Johanna was a new woman, able to walk, able to see and able to care for her baby boy.

Now that she was well, Joanna needed to find work to support herself and her son. She was hired at an industrial sewing shop managed by Siempre Unidos. The stigma of HIV/AIDS is a serious matter in Honduras. It is hard to get and keep a job if one's status as an HIV+ person becomes known. But this is not so at Siempre Unidos.

Johanna goes to work each day and is thriving in the Siempre Unidos community, and loves it. “I want to thank God,” Johanna says about the positive direction her life has taken. “Here we learn that we can succeed and do have worth.”

The bishop and people of the Diocese of Honduras have taken Jesus' instructions to his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons to heart. Anti-retrovirals took care of Johanna's devastating symptoms. And the demon of prejudice against people simply because they have an illness? Siempre Unidas took care of him.

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