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July 8, 2006
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 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.

Leaving Home

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house."
Mark 6:3-4

This is why young people leave home. It helps to be in a place where people don't think they know every last thing about you, so that you can make your adult self. Even Jesus has trouble doing that at home.

Sometimes a young person hightails it out of town the minute he turns eighteen and never comes back again, except to visit. Usually the departure is more gradual -- parting is such sweet sorrow that we drag it out over a period of four or five years, half in and half out of adulthood. Our culture assumes a fair amount of incompetence on the part of what we call "young adults," and expects their parents to make lots of decisions for them. It's hard for us to imagine that Alexander the Great had conquered the known world by the age of 21, and that many great intellectual figures of the past were birthed by teenaged mothers.

,i>I don't want our kids to reject us, a groom-to-be tells me, worried. He's afraid that if he and his fiancee raise their kids in any one faith that it will be like a prison for them, a prison they did not choose. I sense some unfinished business: he thinks that kids rejecting their parents stems entirely from the parents' unreasonableness, because that's the way it felt to him when he was young. He thinks that having no spiritual commitment will ensure their spiritual freedom. The truth is somewhat different: all you get from having no spiritual commitment is spiritual ignorance. Maybe parents are unreasonable sometimes, but young people would still have to go their own way and separate from the sweetest, most accepting parents in the world. We can't stay home for ever, and we can't go home again. The world turns and history moves -- and it moves forward. We must prepare for the time when we must leave the home folks behind forever.

Sometimes people do that by picking fights with them. It makes it easier to leave if you can find something to be mad about. My mom does exactly that! the young bride exclaims when I say this. She did it when I went away to college. We argued about everything that summer. When it was finally time for me to leave, we were glad to get away from each other.

Well, she might do it again now, I say. Because she knows she's losing you. So be ready, and take it with a grain of salt. And you're losing her, too, you know. It might have taken two to tango, even back then.

We love each other and then we leave each other behind. We teach each other and then we revise what we have learned. Then we let the world teach us some more, and it's a different world from the one that taught them. We hold our babies in our arms and imagine that we are the sole factor in the molding of their lives. But, while we are the most important factor, we are not the only one. We don't know yet what the others will be. But they won't enter the same world we entered. They'll enter theirs.
Ezekiel 2:1-7
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Mark 6:1-6
Psalm 123

And here is the ERD meditation:

Small Deeds of Power

And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Mark 6:5

Jesus' work in his home town was modest: a few low-key healings. We imagine him there, laying hands on someone in prayer the same way we do, praying as we do. Nothing dramatic or mysterious, not this time. A Jesus very close to us, limited by his surroundings as we are often limited by ours.

In country after country where malaria is the deadly scourge of childhood, everything is limited: medicine, water, food, knowledge of how disease is contracted and transmitted. What could change that?

Tons of money, of course. A complete change in social systems and in regional economies. Universal availablity of education. The wholesale elimination of war and its terrible effects. Any or all of these big things would lower the incidence malaria in many poor countries.

But so could small things. A treated bed net to hang over a child's bed at night costs three or four American dollars. One mother, one child, one child and we've saved a life. A couple of hundred dollars and we've saved all the children in a village. All their other problems remain -- food, water, lack of schooling. But they won't die of malaria. Now there will be a chance to work on all those other things.

Deed of power? Mighty acts? I guess not -- there's not a lot of flash in a few yards of mosquito netting. But even Jesus knew what it was to do what he could, when he couldn't do everything.
Bill Gate and Warren Buffet -- two very big things in the world of money, have joined forces to fight malaria in poor countries. Neither of those men is known for making poor investments, and treated mosquito netting is a major part for their effort. To learn more about ERD's malaria program, to make a donation or to volunteer, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
Watch the Farm's "Ways of the World" for economist Carol Stone's thoughts on the Gates/Buffet news, coming soon. You can also read her meditation on the death of disgraced Enron founder Kenneth Lay.
Garden alert! There's a lovely meditation on flowers in More or Less Church, And -- this just in -- on August 19th, the Geranium Farm will be part of the "Art in the Garden Tour" sponsored by the Edison Arts Society. Stroll the Farm! Meet the cats! Check out the compost pile! See Ethel Merman(maybe)! Taste a Q tomato! Have a lemonade on the porch and discuss 18th century English gardens with Q himself! Tickets are $20; for more information, email or telephone 732-906-4137. The Geranium Farm is an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat of the National Wildlife Federation.
And the Hodgepodge is full of cool stuff -- a note from the Seamen's Church Institute (Knitters, remember that Christmas at Sea needs you all year!) -- a note about author and theologian Elizabeth Geitz and a really neat denim placemat and napkin set Debbie Loeb designed and you can make (the napkin is a bandana!).
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