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September 23, 2006
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts for this coming Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMo. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' on the Church's service to the poor, explores some aspect 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.

Shabby Thoughts

But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
Mark 9:34

Penny for your thoughts,
someone says.

But you don't say anything. They're not worth a penny, you might mutter sheepishly, but that's all. You don't say that you were thinking that you are better looking than the person you just passed on the sidewalk. Or that you were wondering if your friend makes more money than you do. Or if your husband's first wife was a better cook than you are. Or if your best friend likes her new friend better than she likes you.

Thoughts just come into our heads, unbidden and unedited. Some of them are downright brilliant. Most of them are harmless. And some them are embarrassing, too childish to bear the light of day. Shabby little competitive thoughts, unworthy of us -- they pop into our heads all day long.

What does this mean? That we're dreadful people? I doubt it. I am as completely sure as it is possible to be about another person that such thoughts popped regularly into the heads of Mother Teresa and Saint Francis. We know they made frequent annoying visits to the brains of C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine and Thomas Merton, because they say so. And we know St. Paul had them -- we can read his peeves about other people having an easier time than he had, getting more respect than he got, making more money than he made, any time we want to.

So it seems that having unworthy thoughts now and then doesn't damn us to hell. It seems to go with the territory of being human. God is far from finished with us yet, and our little egos have a long way to go.

Jesus didn't reject his quarreling disciples, and he didn't laugh at them. They didn't need to be as embarrassed as they were about their selfishness -- Jesus already knew all about it. We don't, either, because he also knows all about ours.

So join the club. Admit to that ridiculous thought you've just had. And laugh about it to yourself, and maybe with a friend. And be sure to laugh about it with God. After all, self-absorption is part of the scenery in our story, and our story is a comedy.
And here is the ERD meditation

Welcoming the Child

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." -- Mark 9:37

By now, Seano must certainly have died -- in Botswana, with no medicine and no refrigerator to store it in if they had it anyway, people with AIDS don't live more than a year or two.

So that means that her little boy Omphi is an orphan now. I guess he's still with his two aunts, Seano's sisters. I hope so. They took beautiful care of her until she died, which also meant getting Omphi into his school uniform and out the door every day, helping him prepare for the next day in the evenings, helping him handle the great sorrow of his young life, to live with his mother in love until the time came for her to leave him in their tender care.

Throughout their sister's last illness, Omphi's aunts bore their heavy burden with grace. They were beautifully willing to make their sister's cause their own -- one of them nursed Seano full time, and the other worked to support the family.

The AIDS hospice worker called regularly to offer encouragement, advice, food, to help the sisters pay for Omphi's uniforms and books. The hospice continues the relationship with the family still: Omphi will not be lost, his aunts will not be forgotten. Their painful loss will not destroy their lives.

The hospice is run by the Anglican church in Gabarone. Episcopal Relief and Development helps support its work. We support Episcopal Relief and Development. And so we are able to do what Jesus asked of us, to welcome the child. Even if the child is halfway round the world.


To learn more about ERD's work in Africa,or to make a donation, visit / or telephone1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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