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August 11, 2005
Today's eMo is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's work with the victims of natural disasters and war, considers some aspect of the worldwide 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.
The Children's Food to the Dogs?

He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw
it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the
crumbs that fall from their masters' table.
Matthew 15:26-27

The allegorical figure of justice is a blindfolded woman bearing a
balanced scale. She is blindfolded so she will be impartial, not seeing who it is who asks for judgement. And the scale she carries is precarious: just a gram on either side will tip it. By her distinctive appearance, we know two things immediately: justice is challenging to achieve and even more difficult to maintain.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency arrives within days of a disaster, bringing in quickly whatever is needed: food, diapers for the babies, shelter. And money: for repairing homes, for replacing furniture, dishes, cooking utensils.

One thing, though -- if you are an undocumented worker, it will be different for you. You will get food and water and diapers. But you can't receive FEMA money to rebuild. If you have a minor child born in the States, you can apply on behalf of that child. But many undocumented parents are terrified of being deported if they make such an application. Only 8,402 of the 1.2 Floridians who applied for FEMA grants after the hurricanes of 2004 received the maximum grant of $5,100, not a lot of money for someone who needs to build and furnish a house. None of the undocumented families could receive any money at all, and almost all of them depended for their livelihood on the citrus harvest ruined by the storms.

In the current political climate, a softening of regulations concerning undocumented workers is unlikely: our suspicion of foreigners seems to have made many of us forget just how our own ancestors arrived on these shores. We will not allow government to assist those in the United states illegally. They should just go back where they come from, someone says at dinner, and everybody nods.

And so the Episcopal Dioceses in Florida have their hands full, for here is a case in which political reality and human justice didn't line up very well. The Diocese of Central Gulf Coast is helping rebuild homes. There, and in the Diocese of Florida, the Church provide counseling to traumatized victims, and has trained local clergy to assist their people in the ongoing aftermath of this disaster. The Diocese of Central Florida continues to help people still in shelters move back into regular housing.

You assist all these efforts through your participation in the work of Episcopal Relief and Development, which need not stop to test the political wind in order to decide who to help. Many of ERD's decisions and plans are complex, but this one never is. We already know who to help: the least of these. The foreigner. the widow. The hungry. The ones in the most need. It is so simple. So just. And so right.
To learn more about ERD, to make a donation or to volunteer, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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