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January 18, 2005
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be used this Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMo. The second is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the work of the Church among the suffering through the ministry 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.


A Discerning Moment Takes a Long, Long Time

He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali... - Matthew 4:13

Jesus left Nazareth, where he had lived with his parents all his life. Left the carpenter shop and the trade he must certainly been taught by his dad, to take over when Joseph died. Moved to Capernaum by the sea, and became friendly with the fishermen who lived there. It was unusual for someone to depart from his father's trade or to move away from his own town. Why would anybody want to do that?

Matthew says he had to live there in order to fulfill a prophecy of Isaiah about the land of Zebulun and Naphthali. Maybe -- Matthew's very concerned to cover all those prophecies. Or maybe Jesus just wanted to see another part of his world. Already he must have sensed his destiny, though he might not have had a lot of details to work with. Maybe he didn't know exactly what was ahead, but he knew he wasn't going to grow old as a carpenter in Nazareth.

He would walk by the sea and see the fishermen leaving in the early morning. He would be there when they returned, watching with interest. Perhaps he got work on some of the boats -- he must have done something to keep body and soul together at this moment in his life, just as he is about to begin his new work. I am thinking that he did, and that Peter and Andrew knew him, had talked with him. Had begun thinking about the odd things he said. Wondered about their own destinies. Maybe they, too, would be leaving the familiar behind. Maybe it wasn't a surprise when he finally asked them to follow.

You usually have clues, if you're willing to see them for what they are. Hints from within and without about a coming change, vague dissatisfactions that signal new possibilities. It sounds like Peter and Andrew followed out of the blue, with not warning. I bet it wasn't like that. I bet they'd been in discernment for a long time.


Pss 139* Amos 3:1-8 * I Corinthians 1:10-17 * Matthew 4:12-23


And here is the ERD meditation:

People Whose Lives We Know

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea -- for they were fishermen. - Matthew 4:19

Jesus approached two fishermen first, as they prepared their nets for a day's fishing on a calm sea. Their equipment was not significantly different from the nets and boats that thousands of fishermen lost in an instant on December 26th: fishing at the family level is pretty much as it was thousands of years ago. Our forebears in the faith knew all about the life of a fisherman, how uncertain and dangerous it is in the best of times. The first people they approached, not surprisingly, were other fishermen. People whose lives they knew. The faith grew outward from that beginning.

Maybe you didn't know it, but you and I have been in Sri Lanka since before the tsunami. We have been in four small communities in and around the capital city of Colombo, and we have assisted families there with training in sanitation, family health and nutrition, assistance in work readiness and finding work for young people. Our first work there was with the families who work on the plantations -- 30% of Sri Lankans make their living in Agriculture -- and we have stayed with them through ongoing partnership with the Church in Sri Lanka in these local communities.

Now, it is a different group of families in another part of Sri Lanka: the coast. Everyone here makes his or her living from the sea, like Peter and Andrew, and everyone lost everything. Our team is traveling throughout the entire tsunami-stricken area to assess how best to implement the commitment to long-term rebuilding assistance that we have made after our initial immediate provision of emergency shelters treated to repel disease-carrying insects. We spent the first $250,000 while we were sleeping, before we had even heard about the tsunami on the news: it was on its way from Episcopal Relief and Development's emergency relief funds to the Diocese of Colombo before ERD had collected a dime of new money for the new emergency.

Weeks later, ERD has raised more than $2.1 million, with more coming all the time. Leadership is hopeful that this terrible disaster will begin a new season of intense collaboration among all the organizations on the ground in Sri Lanka and the other disaster areas, and pledges that the long road back for the people who have lost so much will not be a road they travel alone. Through ERD's continuing presence in rebuilding Sri Lanka, long after the cameras have packed up and gone home, you and I will be with them. Because ERD is us.


To learn the latest about ERD's work and to make a donation, visit or call 1-800-334-7626, ext 5219.
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