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April 23, 2004
No matter how I try to remember, I continue to forget that people need the sermon prep eMo before Friday. I'm sorry. Here it is. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution.


When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. John 21:10

How lovely: a little fire on the beach, the intoxicating smell of cooking fish and toasting bread on the morning air. And our Friend, the one we thought we had lost forever.

We had kippers for breakfast often, my father and I. I was surprised and embarrassed to learn that fish for breakfast didn't sound as excellent to my school chums as it was to me, and I immediately understood that it would be better never to mention the blood pudding. Leave it at the toast and marmalade, the steaming tea with milk in thin china cups.

So many people don't eat breakfast. They're in a hurry. Sometimes I am among them, racing out the door on an empty stomach, intent on what comes next. It's the most important meal of the day, my mother would intone. I know. I still hear her.

It is among the most pleasant meals to share. If you're a morning person, you can chat and make plans. If you're not, you can listen to the radio together, or just read the paper in companionable silence. The person with whom you eat breakfast is a person you know well. And that person knows you, too. Even if you're at a diner, you're home. The waitress remembers you, even if you don't know her name and she doesn't know yours. She calls you "Hon."

So often, my dreams of those who have died are set in the context of a meal: my father setting out the tea things, my mother sitting at the table, peeling vegetables, my whole family at the dinner table, and I a little girl again. The dead live still, in another way. They are not gone forever; they are only alive in a different way. But they are alive: they symbolize this to us by participating in a meal, one of the sweetest rituals of the living.

Jesus cooked up a beach picnic to help his people understand this. Let me share this with you, and begin to understand that death is not the final thing for us that we have always thought it was. There is more to this life than you see here. Death is not as simple a separation as you thought, nor as awful. Settle down, look, listen, taste. It is far from over.


In addition to the sermon prep eMo, I offer the following second meditation on this text, which I have prepared for Episcopal Relief and Development. For the next year, I will provide a meditation each for preahers who want to encourage their hearers to become involved with the worldwide disaster relief and service to the poor that ERD funds and provides. You can learn more at ERD's website,

Food We Provide for Ourselves

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread…Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast."
John 21:9,12

On the beach: a cooking fire and the delicious smell of grilling fish. Our Friend has seen us coming, and has prepared a meal for us all to share. It is the same meal we’ve enjoyed with Him a hundred times before, we fishermen -- every time we came back in, we’d grab a couple and cook them over the coals right there on the beach. Nothing better.

Food we got ourselves. If we can get food ourselves, we’ll never be dependent on anybody else to live. We’ll be able to live on our own, no matter what.

Impoverished urban neighborhoods in the province of Salta in northern Argentina. Tucked in here and there among the dilapidated buildings, there is a surprising amount of unused land in this place. City-dwelling adults who have never thought of themselves as farmers learn to cultivate it efficiently, learn about vegetable crops suitable for urban community gardens: Argentina‘s National Institute of Farming Technology provides training in the ancient art of bringing forth the bounty of Argentina‘s fertile soil, even in the middle of a city slum. The Diocese of Northern Argentina provides the communal kitchens in the neighborhood churches, and the people themselves do the cooking. Their children play safely while they work, and at the end of the day, everyone can sit down to a hearty meal together: enjoying the bounty of food they’ve raised themselves.

Food for everyone. The honest fruit of honest toil. Jesus seems to have to have loved being around working people, to have understood the challenges of their lives, and the joys of them as well.

We’re having some wonderful wine from Argentina with dinner tonight; their wines are commanding increasing respect among knowledgeable wine lovers. We’ll also have some early lettuce from around here. In a couple of months , we’ll be having my husband’s own wonderful tomatoes. Wherever you are, there’s nothing like home-grown.

With the cooperation of the Diocese, Institute of Farming and Episcopal Relief and Development, 900 children a week sit down in the Anglican parishes of Salta at these communal meals. Their parents now know the quiet pride of feeding their families themselves, rather than the humiliation of lining up for a handout of food. Already the medical symptoms of malnutrition in these children of Salta have begun to abate.
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