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March 14, 2008
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be heard 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 victims of natural disasters and war, considers some aspect of the worldwide 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.


You will all become deserters because of me this night...
Matthew 26:31

Not me, they all say. Not me. Not me. But in the end, not a one of them is left standing with him.

Most of us know what's right, but not very many of us are willing to go out on a limb to secure it for someone else. We hope somebody will, and if it ends up working, we'll congratulate that person and be sure to let him know that we were with him all along. And, if it doesn't -- well, we haven't lost anything. The one who does summon the courage can count on paying a price for it, while the jury is still out: nobody wants to alienate the power people, or to look too friendly with someone who has.

If you do decide to help in an unpopular but righteous cause, know that there will be a cost, and be willing to pay it. Don't play the wounded innocent when power strikes back at you; maintaining itself is what power does. But also know that the divine grace will help you pay what it cost you to stand up.

Look at this sorry lot, the twelve apostles. Not one of them comes off well -- not much leadership there. Afraid for their lives, they scatter and hide. The risen Christ knows right where to find them when he returns: he goes to their hiding place! Their fear doesn't surprise him in the least.

But somehow, they change. Every one of them finds the courage to live his life for what has happened, and also the courage also to lay it down, just as their teacher did. They become powerful preachers and healers. They become leaders. They are given the courage to pay the price, the courage to choose a course of action that has a price.

They became different people, those who led what we now know was the early Church.

Palm Sunday, Year A The Liturgy of the Palms Matthew 21:1-11
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 The Liturgy of the Word
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Philippians 2:5-11
Matthew 26:14- 27:66 or
Matthew 27-11-54
Psalm 31:9-16

And here is the ERD meditation:

An Innocent Cup of Coffee

I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.
Matthew 27:24

Is this really how it is -- can we really wash our hands of things? Can I really absolve myself of responsibility for something just by saying I'm not responsible?

No. Ethical responsibility is not something we choose or don't choose to have. We just have it. Our only choice is whether or not we live up to it.

Sometimes people are angered by assertions about the responsibility of the wealthy for the welfare of the poor. I didn't make them poor, someone says, poverty has been around a lot longer than I have.

Maybe so,
someone else says, but you benefit from it every day. It may well be that we ourselves have committed no overt action to cause the impoverishment of others, but we reap the fruit of a prosperity that feeds on it every day.

Back and forth at the dinner table, at the cocktail party, in the adult forum, we argue about this. Or we listen to other people argue about it, liberal guilt versus handouts that don't really help, versus the market that always works, versus who knows what, and we secretly long to be released. Oh, dear, we think, hearing reasonableness and fault on every side of the debate, feeling terrible about the poor and wondering what on earth we might do to make things different.

Well, there is one thing you can do -- a real thing, a market-driven thing, not a handout at all. You can change the coffee they serve at church.

Yup, Episcopal Relief and Development sells coffee. Or, rather, makes it possible for you to buy organic coffee from small farmers in poor countries. Bishops Blend coffee combines social justice with ERD’s mission of responding to needs around the world. Fair Trade coffee helps farmers in the developing world receive a living wage for their coffee, while protecting the environment.

The sale of Bishops Blend coffee also furthers ERD’s mission of responding to issues such as poverty, hunger, and disease worldwide. All proceeds raised through Bishops Blend go into ERD’s general fund so they can be used for the areas of greatest need – such as emergency assistance after floods, or support for AIDS orphans.

And it's really good coffee, too. The arguments about what really helps the poor will continue at coffee hour, and that's a good thing: if people care enough about the poor to argue about them, eventually they'll care enough to do more. Buying fair trade coffee for the church won't do the whole job, of course. But every lovely cup of the luxurious dark brew will remind you again of how good life can be, and how small a thing can bring a person joy. Any person, anywhere; it's not too much to ask.


To order Bishops Blend Coffee and learn more about ERD wide-ranging work in service to those in need, visit


What happens to money matters -- to the world God made, and certainly to the people in it! Let economist Carol Stone help you understand the complexities of today's financial markets in Ways of the World at Her essay today is entitled "Uncharted Waters."
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