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December 22, 2006
She Who Believed

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.
Luke 1:45

Trust does not come easily to adults. We've been burned one time too many. We're not about to hand over our battered hearts without something in the way of a guarantee. But we know there are no guarantees. So we don't get our hopes up. And we hold what hope we do have close to our chests.We don't show it to anybody.

Of course, Mary was very young. Maybe she didn't know any better. But wait -- this line isn't spoken by Mary. Elizabeth says this, in the story as we have it. Middle-aged Elizabeth, improbably expecting the child she surely never thought she'd have. She's not talking only about young Mary. She's talking about herself, too. She's talking about anybody who dares to hope.

Why do we refuse our own hope? We dread our disappointment. Perhaps we dread our own embarrassment. Our reality stands next to the bright vision of our longing, and it is not displayed to advantage. Maybe we even think we'll jinx ourselves. Sshh-- don't say anything about your hope. They'll take it away if you mention it.

But here is the truth: just as there are no charms, there are no jinxes. Neither hope nor despair makes things happen by magic. What they do is change us. Hope itself comforts and strengthens, right in the moment of hoping, whether or not what I long for ever comes to pass. And despair only ensures that I will experience every bad thing twice -- once before it arrives and then again when it's here.

Sorrow and disappointment will come to all of us on their own -- we won't need to decide in favor of it. It costs us no more to allow ourselves to dream the reality God promises, and it makes us glad, right then and there.
Advent IV, Year C:
Micah 5:2-4
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-49(50-56)
Psalm 80 or 80:1-7
And here is the ERD meditation:

For the Person Who Has Everything

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb...
Luke 1:42

All babies are blessings, no matter who they are or where they're born. Each one is in the image of God. But they don't all get the same chance to grow into adults who will burnish that image into something bright and beautiful.

Every day, 3,000 African children die of malaria. An adult can often fight back against the disease, emerging on the other side of an attack weak but still alive, but its symptoms race through the tiny body of a child too quickly to be arrested, even if anti-malarial drugs are available. The chances of curing a stricken child in a remote village are slim to none. The key, then, is preventing infection in the first place.

NetsforLifeSM is a partnership program of Episcopal Relief and Development which will distribute one million treated mosquito nets and train people in their use in 16 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years. The nets are good for three to five years. Anglican churches, with whom we have had relationships for decades, are the local partners, and ERD is drawing other funding agencies and individuals together to support this massive effort.

The Millennium Development Goal of a decrease in childhood mortality is one that all of us can endorse. In this season, in which we welcome a child born into poverty as the Son of God, some mosquito nets and a note explaining them just might be the best present you could give the person who has everything.
To learn more about NetsforLifeSM, or to make a donation toward the mosquito nets, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626.
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