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January 27, 2005
Today's eMo is a meditation on texts for this Sunday's sermon. It is the usual sermon preparation eMo only; the ERD meditation isn't ready yet, and I have to catch a plane! Look for it tomorrow: it is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the work of the Church with the poor and those who suffer 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.
Exodus 24:12(13-14)15-18 * Ps 99 * Philippians 3:7-14 *
Matthew 17:1-9

Rise, and have no fear.
Matthew 17:7

At the eight-o'clock service, the usual suspects will be there: early risers, people who love a quiet, more introspective worship service. The people who go to the later service think that all the eight o'clockers are old, but maybe they just don't know what old is. Anyway, they're not all old. They're not all anything.

Perhaps one or two folks you don't know yet have come. If they're from a church in which they are also eight o'clockers, they understand the zen of the service: its quiet, its contemplation, its warm but restrained handshakes at the Peace. They know that not every sign of love has to be a squeal of delight and a big bear hug, that a smile can speak of love, too.

Maybe you preach from the pulpit at eight, and maybe you don't. Maybe the eight o'clock is in a chapel that doesn't really have a pulpit, instead of in the main sanctuary, and so you stand at the lectern or at the little crossing and you read the story of the Transfiguration, always read on the last Sunday of Epiphany. Rise, and have no fear, Jesus says to his terrified disciples, who have just heard the very voice of God and fallen to the ground.

As you begin your homily, it's about 8:15. Mid-afternoon in Iraq. Maybe you listened to the radio before the service, and so you know how the election is going over there. Maybe some of your people have spouses or children or brothers or sisters or grandchildren over there, and you've been walking with them through their constant fear since their deployment, as they hold their breath with the news of every roadside bomb, every car bomb, every ambush, every accident.

Maybe you opposed the war and maybe you favored it. That isn't central now, not today. Because maybe a true miracle will happen: thousands, millions of people will pour into the streets, men, women, children, will walk to the polling places. Maybe their longing for this whole thing to be over and a different life from any life they've had before to unfold into the future will raise them up from the pit of their fear. Maybe they will vote for leaders who represent them and maybe the leaders will really represent them. Maybe enough wisdom will prevail that the winners will remember their responsibility to the losers in a democracy. Maybe everyone is tired of killing.

Red or blue, man or woman, young or old, hawk or dove: pray for this election. Pray the love of God on each of these beloved sons and daughters of Islam, each member of the small Christian minority, each member of the even smaller minority of Jewish Iraqis. In every way, this election is as important as the one held here in November, to us and to the people of Iraq. to the world. We may fear its failure, but let us pray for its success.
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