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March 8, 2005
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts for this Sunday: the first is the usual sermon preparation eMo, and the second is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations attentions on the Church's work with 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.

Can these bones live?
Ezekiel 37:3

After the unbelievable news, patently false, some mistake. After hanging up the phone, staring straight ahead, your cup of coffee forgotten in your hand, and you absorb the ridiculous notion that you might have to live without him. Impossible. There is some mistake.

After the circumstances of his sudden death have begun to sound like a poem as you tell them for the fifth time, and the sixth. A stupid poem, an inadequate poem, a vile, mocking poem. You hate the poem and think you may never read a poem again.

After you wake up in the morning, that first morning without him, surprised that you slept. Not sure you really did. You wore his undershirt to bed, and it still smells like him. You won't wash it. But after a while, you will find that it no longer smells like him, and now something else has been taken from you and it is so unfair that smell doesn't last, that it takes its place in the must of the past along with everything else. After a while, they don't smell like anything. Just old clothes. And you are so angry.

The business of making the arrangements is good. Something busy to do. You are good at arrangements. You are not hungry, but people keep bringing you food. So many and so much. So good. So kind. So much food.

His razor. His toothbrush. His comb. His socks. His library books. How is your husband? the nice man at the dry cleaners will ask one day, and you will not have been expecting an ambush and your throat will go dry and you will say He's fine and then you will change dry cleaners.

Such dry confusion. Such a pile of debris. So much dust. What's my life expectancy again? Can we negotiate that? Because I'm really ready now.

The bones, left to their own devices, will stay dead. There is no life in them to stir them, to make them seek their own, to get them up on their feet and into motion. Nothing within them to enflesh them. You sit in a chair and look at the wall. Then you go to bed. You go back to work, but you're in the chair again in the evening. And then to bed.

Someone watches you, though. There is someone who sees. There is life for the bones of your life, even if you think you don't want life, don't want it ever again. There will be a rustle of movement, a clicking and popping, legs and arms will re-form and there will be new muscle, strong and fresh, and new blood, fast in its course and red as wine.

You need not do this. It will come to you. Open one eye, move one finger just a little, answer one question, talk to one person and your re-living will begin, in the place where the Watcher sees an opening.

Ezekiel 37:1-3(4-10)11-14
Romans 6:16-23
John 11:(1-17)18-44
Psalm 130


And here is the ERD meditation:

Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.
John 11:11

The mullah was opposed to the program; There is no reason to education girls, he said. Most of the villagers agreed; the very idea was a poisonous breath from the West, intended to weaken and ultimately destroy Islam.

But one man in the village disagreed: the teacher. And the Afghan Institute for Learning, an organization assisted by Episcopal Relief and Development, also knew better, and knew how to help people change their minds on this explosive subject: Work with the men in a village, and with the religious leaders, and respect them. We respect Afghan culture, says Sakena Yacoobi, founder and president of AIL, include men in program planning, and help others realize that the rights of women and girls under Islam are the same as under international human rights documents. Islam protects the rights of women and is a religion of peace.

The village teacher contacted AIL, which asked him to gather support among the conservative men of the village. This he did, after many discussions and late-night arguments, and the village agreed to make some space available and to select three women as teachers for classes in three subjects: the Qu'ran, literacy and sewing. The reluctant mullah harumphed and agreed to permit a trial period. His reluctance proved short-lived, though: soon his own daughter was a student in the school. Now the school is in its second year, and the whole village is clamoring for more courses. Women and girls are proud of being able to discuss Qu'ran with their parents and brothers, proud of their sewing, of being able to read.

Forbidden to attend school, attacked on their way to school, hidden from view -- these girls will one day tell their daughters about the way life was before they had a school for girls, and their daughters will have a hard time believing it could ever have been like that. But it still would be, had it not been for a courageous local teacher who knew things could be different, for a visionary woman leader whose organization could help make them different and for the people of the Episcopal Church in faraway America, working with all these brave people through the ministry of ERD.

To donate to Episcopal Relief and Development visit or cal 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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