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March 3, 2005
I Samuel 16:1-13
Ephesians 5:(1-7)8-14
John 9:1-13(14-27)28-38
Psalm 23
Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

The entire Middle East is earthquake country -- that is why there are so many ruins there. And so the shock of the earthquake that struck Iran last week was not exactly the shock of surprise, not exactly: the people of Iran know the what of an earthquake very well. They just didn't know the where or when of that particular one.

The hope of the people in the Bible was that they could escape illness and natural disaster by being good: trouble came from sin, they believed, and if they could just keep their hands clean they wouldn't suffer. How long it took them to come to the end of this readily disproved opinion, we do not know. We now know that the powerful forces of the earth aren't trained on us like rifles, waiting for us to make a false move. The earth just quakes sometimes, and some of us happen to be there,

This one wasn't as bad as the last one in which Episcopal Relief and Development was involved in Iran -- that was in 2003, and 30,000 people in the city of Bam died in it. But it's plenty bad enough: sudden homelessness and serious injury affect scores of villages and more than 40,000 people, it's rained almost every day since the quake, making it hard to find survivors, hard to feed the people you can find, hard to get to the remote villages yet to be visited.

ERD is partnering with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), old friends from the aftermath of the 2003 disaster. The chaos and destruction will look the same, but this time the effort will be streamlined by the respect and familiarity we have developed with our colleagues already on the ground in Iran. They are the ones who know earthquakes, and they are the ones who know their people. The work in Bam in 2003 is ongoing still: health care and housing are two areas in which ERD continues to work with MECC there.

The why remains inscrutable. We have a new where and when. And, once again, we get to be part of God's glorious what: what can the people of God do together in the aftermath of what has happens when the earth quakes?

+ To learn more about ERD's work and how you can help, visit or call 1-8000-334-7626, ext 5129.
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