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April 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 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.
What's In Your Heart of Hearts?

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
John 21:17

Don't the people I love know what's in my heart?

Well, no, they don't, not if you don't show them or tell them. We don't read hearts. We read words and actions. If we want people to know us, we must show ourselves.

And there is more: if all you ever do is show yourself, and everything that comes up ends up being all about you, then what you show is that you don't really think much about who other people are. They're not registering with you as important in their own right -- they're supporting actors in your play.

How clearly do the things you choose to say and do show the world and those you love most in it who you wish to be?

How was the cruise? we asked.

Oh, it was okay, our friend answered, and began to describe it. She spent a lot of time explaining the ship's policy with regard to alcoholic beverages: which ones were served, which ones cost extra, which brands of whiskey were included and which had to be ordered in advance. We knew a bit more about single-malt Scotch when she finished than we had when she began, and felt that we had a fairly good sense of her, as well. All in all, she said again, it was okay. I can't even recall what the ports of call were now. I'm not sure she mentioned them.

Maybe we do show what's in our hearts -- maybe that's the problem. Maybe we need some surgery there, a spring cleaning, an emptying out of things we don't need and an implantation of some new stuff.

Easter III, Year C
Acts 9:1-6(7-20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19
And here is the ERD meditation:

God is Good, All the Time

Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9:17

And what would happen because of Saul's new eyes? Hardly anything in his life would remain the same. The things he thought were important would be the opposite of what they had been before. His ideas about his own power would be turned upside down. Even his view of his own disability -- Paul wrote of having one, although we can't tell exactly what kind of disability it was, from what he wrote -- would be turned upside down. He would come to regard this weakness, whatever it was, as a strength.

We had ordered our food and were catching up on life. My friend had just returned from Africa and would be heading out again soon.

Where were you? Malawi?

She had to think a minute. Angola. And Tanzania. I'm going back to Tanzania soon.

Oh, my,
I said. And then, before thinking, Was it bad?

She looked confused for a moment and couldn't find an answer. I could tell immediately that I had asked a fatuous question. I meant was the malaria bad. Was the poverty bad. Was the hunger bad. But my words had lumped those sorrows together with all the rest of African life -- was it bad?

No, it isn't bad! It's good. Poor and ill and there's no water, yes. But it's where Jesus is. When you meet a person in Africa, she will say "God is good, all the time!" and you must answer "All the time, God is good!" Determined to live and determined to wring out all the joy to be had from the hardest of days. That's not bad. That's good. Bad is when you have two of everything under the sun and still think that maybe having three of everything is what you need to make everything in your life all right.

We are blinded by our prosperity and our safety. When a terrible thing happens among us, like the campus massacre of this past week, we are shocked that something like that could happen. But we are not shocked at the thousands of malaria deaths each day among the children of Africa. We are blind to them.

Was it bad? No, it was good. God is good, all the time. Whatever life a person has is a gift from God, no matter how difficult, and people almost always cling to life. Malaria is a preventable disease, and new initiatives aimed at preventing it, like Episcopal Relief and Development's Nets for Life program, fill those most affected by it with hope. Their hope sends them off down the dusty road on a ten-mile walk to where they have heard the nets are being distributed, and they sing as they walk.

Was it bad? Nope. God is good. It's our blindness that's bad, that leaves us isolated and lonely in the midst of all our toys, cut off from the real world. But God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

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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