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February 9, 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 service to the poor and those who suffer from the effects of war or natural disaster, explores the 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.
The Limitations of Like Minds

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
Luke 6:22

Respect for conscience is the great gift of Anglican life together. You are not me, and you never have to become me. You have your own journey, and it is not mine. Together we serve the God who created us both, and we can do so even if we disagree, and even if our disagreement is about very important things. We do not have to be a community of like-minded people. We can just agree to serve.

A community of like-minded people has no internal method of self-correction and self-examination -- the most it can do is monitor conformity to unquestioned norms. The friction of argument and the energy it produces is the potent fuel of ideas, in the human community. All our intellectual progress has been accomplished by questioning assumptions.

If an orthodoxy can bear such scrutiny, it remains as it was. If it cannot, it changes. So it has ever been. A questioning mind is not the devil's work. It is one of the fruits of baptism. We pray for it at the font.

That is why we have married priests, why we have women priests. It is why we have restored the ministry of deacons in the Church. It is why the disabled are not barred from serving in ordained ministry. It is why women who have recently given birth are not considered ritually unclean. It is why Christians need not observe the large and complex corpus of Jewish law. It is why the Church is very different in our century from what it was in the 19th. Or in the 16th. Or the 4th.

This is not a betrayal of principle. It is the way human beings live. We live in history as fish swim in water, and history only moves forward. The realm of God to which we look is without time, but the world in which we now live is bound to history. Eyes open, brain in gear and spirit available for instruction, we move with its current.

Don't try to abandon history, for you cannot, not while you are here. Don't try to stop it. Instead, talk to it. Look at it. Listen to it. The human family has many ways of being in the world, and all are instructive in some way. It is the height of hubris to think that we know all there is to know about God's ways because we understand our own. It cuts God out of our story, and makes it a very local story indeed. A story about us alone.

Jeremiah 17:5-10
I Corinthians 15:12-20
Luke 6:17-26
Psalm 1

And here is the ERD meditation:

New Tools, More Food and a Lot More Time

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Luke 6:21

It isn't that the people of the Philippines don't know how to farm -- two-thirds of the rural population of the Philippines makes a living by subsistence farming. They've cultivated the rich soil of those beautiful islands for millennia, using methods handed down from generation to generation.

But there are immense cities there now, as there were not in ancient times. The water has changed: more demands are placed upon it, and ancient sanitation methods falter under the weight of a larger population, a reality felt in rural areas as well as in urban ones. And the natural disasters to which the region is vulnerable make their deadly appearance regularly, sweeping away entire crops and leaving farm families with nothing to show for months of backbreaking work. Forty percent of the population of the Philippines lives in poverty.

But in the villages of Basao and Makilo in the northern region of the Philippines, Episcopal Relief and Development has assisted the diocese in the building of an irrigation system that will allow for two crops per year, instead of just one, and render land that has been non-arable useful and productive. With our support, ERD has also provided mechanized mills and threshing equipment there and in other villages, making it possible for families to process the grain they raise much more quickly than they could when the women and children had to pound it all by hand.

More food, processed more quickly. More to eat and more to sell. A machine that can give a hardworking family the precious gift of time: time for other kinds of work, time to go to school. So that their minds can be nourished, as well as their bodies, and their future can be the richer, wider one for which their parents long.
To learn more about ERD's work, or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1--800-334-7626,ext 5129.
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