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February 1, 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.
Jesus Claims Some Quiet Time

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
Mark 1:35

I know just what that's like -- you have to get up early in the morning to get any time to yourself. For the rest of the day, you're fair game for anyone who needs something from you. Or just wants to talk.

We're all different, of course: maybe you're a night owl, and your quiet time is after they've all gone to bed and the phone has finally stopped ringing. Finally it is quiet, and it is your time.

Or maybe you're doomed if you're home at all: morning or night, if they can see you, they've got you. And then you're exhausted and need to sleep, so you can get up and do it all again tomorrow. Maybe you can only be alone at lunchtime, when you can close the door or go out for a walk or even just go sit in your car. Is this pathetic, or what? you say to yourself as you lock the car door. But at least you're alone.

However you have to do it, we all need time to be alone with God. God needs to get a word in edgewise, and we're so busy and so noisy that he usually can't. But I have so little time to myself, we protest: I can't add one more thing to my day, not one, and you want me to pray, too?

But prayer isn't something you add to your day. It doesn't go on top of everything else; it goes on the bottom. It supports the other things you have on your plate, all of them. The time you spend in quiet prayer -- and that can include saying absolutely nothing at all, just letting God sit with you in silence -- multiplies the value of all your other time. It puts things in perspective, helps you see the bigger picture of your life, to distinguish between the important and the merely urgent. Allows things to occur to you that you hadn't considered before.

The most enthusiastic people person in the world needs some quiet time with God. Nobody will give it to us; we have to claim it for ourselves. It's probably too late for a New Year's resolution, this first week of February. But -- if you forgot about this one -- it's not too late to begin.

Besides, they'll find you soon enough. Mark says that Simon and friends hunted Jesus down to remind him of his obligations. He doesn't report a sigh from Jesus, but I think I hear one. Oh well, he tells himself, it was nice while it lasted. And tomorrow is another day.

2 Kings 4:(8-17)18-21(22-31)32-37
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39
Psalm 142
And here is the ERD meditation:

A Force to Reckon With

Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, "Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you."
II Kings 4:24

The story of this child's healing is so gripping, in so many ways: the boy's miraculous birth, his sad death ("the child sat on her lap until noon, and then he died"), the determined faith of his mother that the holy man who had foretold his unlikely birth could also heal him, and the strange
manner -- a kind of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation -- in which the healing took place. An intimate partnership existed between the mother and the one she called "the man of God," and she knew she could count on it when tragedy struck.

To be counted on is a great honor. The mother could count on the holy man, and the child could count on his mother. The father of the child knew he could count on his wife, too; he knew enough not to get in her way when she demanded provisions for her journey to Elisha for help. This Shunamite woman was a force to reckon with.

In impoverished countries throughout the world, women show that they can be counted on. If they can learn something that will help their families, they will move heaven and earth to learn it. If there is medicine five miles away, they'll walk the five miles. If it's water, they'll walk and then they'll walk all the way back, carrying the heavy buckets. The majority of the world's farmers are women. The local economies of many impoverished areas are being transformed by businesses owned by women, who get started with microloans from Episcopal Relief and Development.

Energetic and determined as they are, many women in these communities were unable to complete their own education, or even to go to school at all, and they will move heaven and earth again, in the hope that their daughters lives will be different. There are very few of poverty's heartaches, from HIV/AIDS infection to low crop yields to malnutrition, that do not improve significantly when the education of girls becomes a priority in an impoverished area.

In the Wardak Province of Afghanistan, 200 girls will attend school for the first time in a primary/secondary school whose construction Episcopal Relief and Development is supporting. After hours, vocational training for women will be offered at the school. The new building will get a lot of use, as girls and their mothers work hard there to make their dream of a better life come true.

You can see a picture of an Afghan schoolgirl and read about ERD's new schools in the Kabul area at 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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