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January 23, 2009
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 eMo. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the church's ministry to the poor and those who suffer as a result of war or natural disaster, explores the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.

When to Start

Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Mark 1:20

We usually see the calling of these fishermen in a distinctly miraculous light: Jesus walks by and people who've never seen him before in their lives drop everything and walk off with him. But what a minute -- where does it say they didn't know him?

It doesn't.

Galilee is not a crowded place now, and it was even less so then. I'll bet these guys knew each other. They'd probably grown up together. I'll bet they'd been talking about Jesus' mission in life for years, ever since they were little boys. And I'll bet this moment was the culmination of an argument that went back years: So what are you going to do with your life? Are you going to make a difference or are you just going to do what you've always done and die not knowing what you really stand for?

It says that their father had hired men with him. Two grown sons, and he has hired hands? I think he has them because they all know the two sons are on their way out of Galileee. This call is not a surprise. It's anything but sudden and mysterious. Jesus just walks by and points to the road. It's time, he says. And they leave together.

You've probably known for a long time what you're supposed to be doing, even if you've avoided facing it so far. Or maybe you're already doing it. Or maybe you're waiting for the time to be right. Your whole life has prepared you for your mission. Maybe it's time to begin.
Epiphany III, Year B
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62: 6-14
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1:14-20

Changing God's Mind?

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Jonah 3:10

Changed his mind?!? Many people don't take kindly to the idea of a changeable God -- we're more comfortable with an Unmoved Mover in charge of things. Buffeted by so many things ourselves, we like a God who holds still.

But the divine mind changes a lot in scripture. God starts to do one thing and ends up doing another. You can argue with God and know that at least you'll get a hearing -- of all the things people in the Old Testament get in trouble with God for -- and there are lots of them -- nobody ever gets in trouble for arguing. And sometimes God changes his mind.
So you never know.

O course, there's another possiblity. Maybe all of God's acts with regard to us are in the context of a changeable world -- how could they be otherwise, in fact, since changeable is so precisely what human beings are? Maybe what has happened when God changes is that we have changed. Maybe our changes alter the course of our events.

Of course. How could it not be so? Christianity doesn't have figures like the three fates of Greek mythology, endlessly spinning our destiny and our doom. We have a relationship with a God who made us out of love and who loves us still. And it goes both ways.

Human action alters the human history in which God acts, and anyone can take action. History may be huge but, like all large things, it is made up of many small things. An organization like Episcopal Relief and Development, relying almost entirely on the modest gifts of individuals and parishes and the good offices of its local partners, is able to move large sums of money and aid quickly to the scene of a disaster in a way none of its donors ever could on our own.

To learn more or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext5219.
Episcopal Relief & Development is pleased to announce the publication of the 2009 Lenten Devotional, Peace & Compassion: To Heal a Hurting World. The devotional features daily meditations adapted from the Rev. Barbara C. Crafton’s Almost-Daily Emos. These reflections lead readers to explore their spiritual connections to people living in poverty around the world. Focusing on Episcopal Relief & Development’s efforts to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the devotional offers ways for parishioners to promote health, fight disease and save lives through the MDG Inspiration Fund. For the first time, the devotional is available in Spanish and can be downloaded at
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