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June 30, 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, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's service to the world through the ministry of Episcopal Relief and Development, discusses the texts in light of some aspect of ERD's work. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.

A Sophistication Gap

When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him.
Mark 5:39-40

I think we know what kind of laughter that was. It wasn't happy laughter, the laughter of friends. It was bitter, this laughter. Sarcastic, bitter and hopeless.

It's hard to come back to a place of trust once you've ventured into the place of sarcasm, isn't it? Once you've activated your cynicism, it bleeds quickly into every other part of you, including your heart, which promptly snaps shut. You don't want to be caught trusting in anything too completely. Don't want to look like a fool. Hah! you say, dripping derision from the single syllable. Hah! you say again. Oh, puh-leeze! you say, trying that one on for size. And it fits: you feel a little better about your hopeless situation, a little more in control. At least you still have your sophistication.

Jesus seems not to set much store by sophistication. He leaves all those people outside, still laughing at him. He brings only those who are prepared to love the bereaved parents and the little girl. In her room, a miracle happens. And the only people there to see it are those who are willing to look like fools because their longing is so intense they don't care how they look.

It costs to keep your heart open. You look like a fool sometimes. People think you don't know how the world works. They may feel sorry for you for being such a bumpkin.

But there will be things you see that the sophisticates will miss. Grace can be subtle, a matter of interpretation. Just imagine the people outside when the little girl emerged, well and happy and hungry for her supper: Raised from the dead? Oh, puh-leeze! I knew all the time that she was just asleep!

Deuteronomy 15:7-11
2 Corinthians 8:1-9,13-15
Mark 5:22-24,35b-43
Psalm 112

And here is the ERD meditation:

Even Before the Rain Has Stopped

Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, "Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land."
Deuteronomy 15:11

We're marooned -- we can't get home until the flood waters have receded a little more. We'll be driving right through New York's Southern Tier and Pennsylvania's northern border, home to a thousand nameless little creeks that have suddenly become dangerous torrents of water -- but we won't be doing it today.

Q and I are mildly inconvenienced for a day or two. Others have had their lives changed forever: churches and houses have been damaged and destroyed and a number of people have been killed, most of them in motor vehicles on washed-out roads and bridges. People are still on the roofs of their houses, waiting to be plucked off by helicopters and taken to safety.

The Diocese of Albany has been hit hard; so have the Dioceses of Easton, New York and Central New York. With church buildings and homes full of water and the rain still falling, their bishops and other church officials are at work with local emergency responders deploying Episcopal Relief and Development's emergency money for temporary shelter, clean water, medicine, food and clothing.

"The church is the center of the community, and in many cases the church is where disaster victims turn for help. Not only in financial matters, but also in the spiritual and physiological care...Through preparedness we will help meet the needs of our communities."

The ERD newsroom on the website is ordinarily a busy place, full of the latest news about ERD's work throughout the world. It's always impressive, and often sad. Today's bulletin is a little different, and startlingly close to home: it contains nuts-and-bolts warnings and instructions for surviving a flood. Visit the site at the link below and read carefully -- just in case it's your town someday.

And give thanks that, through our support of ERD, we can be there, and be there so quickly. Even before the rains have stopped.
Be prepared for emergencies and help others; visit
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