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July 13, 2004
Today's eMo consists of two meditations: the usual sermon preparation meditation on the texts for this coming Sunday's liturgy, and a second one for preachers who wish to focus on the Church's service to the suffering through the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution, and no further permission is necessary.

Genesis 18:1-10a(10b-14) * Psalm 15 * Colossians 1:21-29 * Luke 10:38-42


All of us had our nose in a book almost all the time. You could explode a bomb right next to John or David and they wouldn't even look up. This was not a matter of raw courage; they just didn't hear. They were busy. History buffs, both of them, and science fiction. Hobbits. Mysteries. Cereal boxes, if there was nothing else at hand.

I loved biography. History, too, of course. Novels of all kinds, and poetry. Resolved to read the Bible cover to cover as a child and did so, with minimal comprehension of much of it. That's a book that should be read for the first time in partnership, which is one more good reason to go to church: you get a carefully chosen bit of scripture reading, and then someone who's studied it a lot stands up and does his level best to make it comprehensible to you.

There was talk in the house of our being lazy, especially the boys -- it seemed hard for our parents to comprehend why it was more attractive to read a book in the heat of the afternoon than to mow the immense lawn. This seemed odd to us, because both of them read a lot, too. Seemed like they ought to understand us a little better.

People who sit and read -- anything -- are honoring their Mary selves. I am sure that starting anywhere, even with the silliest of novels, is just fine: the efficiency you build as a reader and your growing sophistication as a person will lead you toward more substantial fare, and to grow in knowledge of any kind is to grow closer to God.

Does everyone make the leap, though, from being a deeply learned person about the things of this world to being a seeker of spiritual truth? No, some people never do. They stay here, wise in the ways of our absorbing world, constitutionally convinced that our absorbing world is all there is. They do fine.

But for those of us who wish to go on into the mystery, none of what we have learned here is lost. We must honor it, for it has made us who we are and we love the essential jollity of the world's soul. And yet we find ourselves leaving it behind for long periods of time, sitting quietly with our hearts somewhere else. Find in ourselves a need to sit in this way.

We look lazy, I think. That's okay.


And she had a sister Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. -- Luke 10:39

Gloria has always lived in the village of Uma, in the northern Philippines. She is a farmer, growing rice and selling it herself. She has had very little schooling: you don't need to go to school to pound rice out of is brown husks with a heavy stone pestle. She works With the rice all day, every day, always pounding, pounding, pounding. Gloria is a tiny woman, and the pestle is heavy. It is the only work she has ever done, and she has done it all her life.

Everyone in Uma raises either rice or coffee. And everyone means everyone, including the children of Uma. But Gloria dreams of school for her children instead. She dreams that their lives will not be a replication of her own hard life.

Episcopal Relief and Development, in partnership with the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, has bought Uma's residents something that could make that happen: a motor-driven rice mill. Now Gloria and her neighbors don't have to pound the rice out of its husks manually: the mill and do it in a fraction of the time it used t take. The children don't have to help with the processing -- one person can do the whole job with this machine. Now Gloria's children can go to school.

The people of Uma are proud of their miraculous rice mill. Everyone makes more money, and women can learn to do other work besides pounding rice. Families can buy different kinds of food for a better diet. And, best of all, the childremn of Uma can go to school every day.

Everybody has to eat. Everybody has Martha duties. But everybody has the right to be Mary, too, and to grow into the full stature God intends.


Episcopal Relief and Development saves lives and builds hope in communities around the world. We provide emergency assistance in times of disaster. When the immediate crisis is over, we rebuild devastated communities and offer long-term solutions in the areas of food security, health care, and HIV/AIDS. For more information on ERD, call (800) 334-7626, ext. 5129, or visit our website at
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