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January 19, 2007
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 work with the poor and those who suffer from the effects of war or natural disaster, deals with the ministry of Episcopal Relief and Development. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attibution. No further permission is necessary.
Jesus Goes To His High School Reunion

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. -- Luke 4:7-8

Five years out, you're worried. You feel, in fact, as if you were still in high school: I wonder if so-and-so will be there, and if he's still a bully? I wonder if my old boyfriend will be there, and if he ever thinks of me? Will anyone bring up the embarrassing thing that happened to me in 11th grade?

Ten years out, you wonder if others are more successful than you are. You try to gauge that by looking at them, but it's hard to tell. You are shocked to see that some of the guys are now almost completely bald, and you understand the current head-shaving trend in a sympathetic new light.

Fifteen years out, you're too busy to go.

At twenty, people who used to be lean as snakes all have tummies. Two of them don't, though; they look just as they did when you were all eighteen. Jerks. But you decide to be a bigger person than that, and so you talk to one of the beautiful sleek ones, and right away you remember why you liked her so much. And one of the bullies seems not to remember how mean he was to you. He seeks you out. He is really interested in your work and he gives you his card.

Your math teacher says it's all right to call him Frank now, but you find that you cannot. He will always be Mr. Brown. He smiles and nods.

People you didn't really know then turn out to be lovely people. Even people you disliked have finally grown up and turned out all right. You finally grew up and turned out all right. Who would have thought it?

Jesus' trip home turned out a little like your most nightmarish imagining of your high school reunion -- at the end of the visit, they tried to kill him. They seemed unable to let him change, become the adult God had ordained for him to become. So he had to leave. Didn't go to the next one, I guess.

Thank God, none of us remain as we were. Nothing and no one remains as it was, not a thing in all the world. Everything has a destiny, and everything heads toward it. Don't bother trying not to go there. Save your energy for the journey.

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4:14-21
And here is the ERD meditation:

Glad To Be Alive

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. -- I Corinthians 12:26

What is it like to survive an event like Hurricane Katrina? I'd just be glad to be alive! we say to ourselves as our hearts go out to the children involved and we try to imagine their experience, and "glad to be alive" would certainly be one feeling a person would have. But there are others. Survival is anything but simple.

Susie and her three daughters found that their response was much more complicated than just "glad to be alive." They moved from place to place to place, as she struggled to keep three young girls safe from the chaos immediately following the disaster. Finally, they made it to Susie's mother in Minnesota.

Safe at last, we think. But again there was more to it than just "safe at last." The girls were traumatized by all that had happened. They awoke screaming from dreadful nightmares. They couldn't eat. They were too frightened to go to school. Susie decided to home school them, but she herself was shaken and afraid, and it didn't go as well as she had hoped. She had a hard time sleeping at night. In the daytime, tears often overtook her without warning. Where had her life gone?

With the help of Katrina Aid Today, an interfaith consortium of which Episcopal Relief and Development is a member, Susie received counseling and employment help. KAT sent her girls to Camp Noah, a program specifically designed to help children who have survived a major flood.

The fear that had paralyzed the family began to dissipate under the wise care of people who knew just how to help. The girls began to think of the future again, as well as of the frightening months just past. They began to talk of going back to school, and soon they were back, and excited to be there.

At last, Katrina is taking its place in the past for Susie and her children. They survived it. They made it. At last, "glad to be alive" begins to make some sense to them. Glad to be alive. Glad to have each other. And glad to have found the help they so desperately needed.

+ To learn more about ERD, or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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