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September 9, 2005
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be heard in many churches this Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMo. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry with those who in need, explores the worldwide work 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.


,i>Peter came and said to Jesus,"Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times."
Matthew 18:21-22

Seventy-seven, huh? In the King James version, it's "seventy times seven," which is 490 times. This doesn't sound very hopeful -- most of us find forgiving even one time hard enough to manage.

But maybe that's because we don't know what forgiveneness is. We think it's some things it isn't, and we balk at them. For instance:

1. Forgive and Forget. Nonsense. History has happened and forgiveness doesn't wipe it out.

2. If I forgive, it'll mean what he did was okay. Also nonsense. You don't have to forgive things that are okay - they're already okay, right?

3. It will mean he gets away with it. ,i> Nope. Actions have consequences and the one who sins against you will have to pay for his actions. We all must.

4. It will mean he didn't really hurt me. No, it won't. Forgiveness is not acquittal. See #2.

5. I can't forgive her; she's not even sorry. Your forgiveness isn't really about her, although she occasioned the need for it. Forgiveness is about you: your freedom. Your future. Getting your life back.

6. I can't. It's been too long. Maybe it happened long ago. But if you're carrying it around now, it's a current reality.

7. I can't. The one I'm furious at is me. Well, that's the person most people can't forgive, most often. More than anyone else. Ask yourself if you would hold out on anyone else as long as you are holding out on yourself. Make use of the Church's assurance of God's forgiveness in a sacramental confession, and then ask yourself if you are above God (Hint: the answer is no.).

Ecclesiasticus 27:30-28:7
Romans 14:5-12
Matthew 18:21-35
Psalm 103 or 103:8-13
And here is the ERD meditation:


If one has no mercy toward another like himself, can he then seek pardon for his own sins?
Ecclesiasticus 28:4

I'm going down, a friend writers. I leave tomorrow for Houston.

Some firefighters and some police officers will miss our observance here of the fourth anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy -- they're working down on the Gulf Coast. Many widows and other family members are working, collecting money and emergency goods for the Hurricane victims. It's really helping me get through this week, one of them said.

Brother Justus worked in the morgue after 9/11, and thought immediately of the work that would be ahead in New Orleans. He worked there for the better part of a year. They'll work longer. Deacon Gerri worked at the morgue, too, four years ago. She's working on Episcopal Relief and Development collections now, sending out emails to keep parishes informed about how their folks can help. So many of the fallen police and firefighters lived on Staten Island. The Church of the Ascension on Staten Island raised $2500 for Katrina victims on the strength of one announcement during the service.

Everyone from everywhere came and helped us. Everywhere -- including Louisiana. A truck full of firefighters arrived to help-- they'd driven to New York nonstop, taking turns at the wheel. They had to: time was everything at the site in those first days when there was still hope of bringing people out alive.

And there was another reason they were in a hurry -- the back of the truck was full of the best thing the folks back home could think of to send, to fill our stomachs and warm our hearts: tray after tray of wonderful jambalaya. Warm and spicy. Beautiful and red. Made with love you could taste and smell for our rescue workers by some of the best cooks in the world.

Oh, what good people! How generous and funny they were, how charming the way they talked, so different from the way we talked. How kind it was of them to drive all that way and to work so hard. And to bring us jambalaya. I've never had anything so good.

And now they struggle through the long days and don't stop through the nights. Our folks are there, now, and more are on the way. Now the devastation is a thousand times worse than what they saw when they were here: a whole city, whole towns, everything, everywhere you look.

Nothing is too good for them.

Episcopal Relief and Development continues to work around the clock in response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. If you haven't given to this effort, please consider doing so to the best of your ability. If you have, consider a second gift. For more information, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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