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January 25, 2006
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be read in many churches this Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMo. The second is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry to the poor and victims of natural disasters or war, through the 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.

Not In God's Name

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
I Corinthians 8:9

We can do whatever we want and God will still love us. Nothing we do can set us outside that love. That's true. But it's still not a good idea just to whatever you feel like doing at any given moment, and most of us have figured that out by the time we're halfway through our teens. We cause ourselves untold grief until we get that through our heads.

And we can hurt other people, too. I am free to do whatever I want. But not everything I want to do is a good idea. I have limits. I'll suffer if I don't observe them. And another thing: I might hurt someone else by my example. He might see me behaving irresponsibly and figure it's fine -- if I can do it, he can, too. Wonderful -- now both of us must suffer unnecessarily, reaping consequences we might have predicted and could have avoided.

Does this apply to the current impasse in the Anglican Communion? Do we have an obligation to maintain an institutionalized cruelty to fellow Anglicans of minority sexual orientations because others have not been able to move in the direction of recognizing this cruelty as the sin it is? I don't think so. It is one thing to join another in his weakness and quite another to join him in his sin. A hundred years from now, probably less, hatred and persecution of homosexuals will look exactly as chattel slavery looks to us now. People will be unable to understand how we could have called ourselves Christians and also reject them. What is done today with scriptural texts condemning same-sex love will look like what was done in slaveholding days with the many biblical texts condoning slavery in both the Hebrew scriptures and our own. The sooner we leave this unlovely behavior behind, the better for all of us.

Arrogant? Culturally insensitive? I don't think so. I must love and respect and pray for my brothers and sisters, but I can't help them marginalize or injure anyone in God's name.
Deuteronomy 18:15-20
I Corinthians 8:1b-13
Mark 1:21-28
Psalm 111

And here is the ERD meditation:

Heat, Medicine...and Some Other Good News

He makes his marvelous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
Psalm 111:4

We do not know why the Pakistani-Kashmir earthquake struck when it did, just as winter was coming on. Maybe we know a little bit about why it struck where it did, but not enough to have made a difference to the hundreds of villages scattered sparsely through the difficult terrain of that part of the world. We don't have much grasp of why bad things happen.

But we do know where good things come from. In our world, they come from the compassion that pours from peoples' hearts, and in our faith we understand that compassion to have its birth in the compassionate love of God. We are God's hands and feet and strong backs in the world, and we are God's strategic planners, too, and God's trained professionals. Every human wisdom and skill comes from God, and bears the clear marks of its holy origin.

The Church in Pakistan and Kashmir has provided medical care for more than a century. The structures of local resources and local trust were already old when the terrible earthquake struck, and it is our privilege to support these Christians in work they know well by means of Episcopal Relief and Development's partnership with their dioceses.

The devastation is huge. But the help is huge, too, and it is ongoing. In Azad Kashmir, the Diocese of Sialkot sees 100 patients every day at is clinic, staffed by one doctor, two nurses and a health worker. All of them live on site. 4,700 people have received onsite treatment there, while another 150 were transported out for more extensive treatment.

There's no heat in the clinic, by the way. ERD is helping the diocese build a new one -- with heat this time -- and better housing for the medical workers, who appear to be in for the long haul.

Life there is so hard. So cold. So many have been killed or maimed. But amid the harsh realities of life after a disaster, a kind reminder that death and injury are not all there is: since the earthquake, the clinic has delivered 10 healthy babies.

To learn more about ERD's work or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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