Toay's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be read in many churches tomorrow. 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 among the poor and those who suffer as a result of war or natural disaster, explores the ministry of Episcopal Relief & Development. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Of course it can. Something good can come out of anywhere. Whatever else national origin or race or sexual orientation or religion or gender may confer on us, they seem not to carry automatic goodness or automatic evil. Those permate whole human family, and every segment has its share of both. I can't tell whether you are a good person or not just by looking at your passport. I will need to know more.
I wonder if bigotry is not the greatest of human evils, and the one at the root of all the others. The world would be such a different place if we didn't have it -- imagine what America would be like without racism, what marriage and families would be like if women had always been accorded equality with men, if the world had no memory of anything else. What if religion had never made exclusive claims on its believers, had never insisted that everyone outside the organization was doomed to an eternity in hell? Certainly, we would have had fewer wars.
Bigotry is the devil's perversion of love. He takes the natural love we feel for our own kind and refracts it into hatred and fear of the other. He makes us think we are being loyal to our own when we reject everyone else. Ugly and sad, this business, and it permeates everything we do.
But it can be cut off at the knees simply by a decision not to act in accordance with its dictates, and that decision can be made at any time by anybody. We do it ourselves, each of us. And sometimes we do it together, a wonder to behold. For, whatever has happened in the past, it is never too late to do a good thing.
1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20)
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Use The Power You Have
See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.
1 Samuel 3:11
Now, there's a colorful expression. Our ears are tingling right now, in fact, every time we turn on the radio for the latest news from the Holy Land. Where can it end, we ask each other. How much worse can it get? What is the way out?
I don't envy your new president, someone says at dinner, and all the Americans nod soberly. An economy in tatters, war in two countries, and worse news from Gaza every day -- the conflict in Gaza has already cost more than 1,000 lives since December and the fighting continues. Such intractable problems, and so huge. No wonder inaugurations begin and end with prayers.
Those entrusted with the leadership of nations carry a heavy and lonely load --heavier than the one we carry. They also wield more power than we do, of course. But we have the power we have, and all of us -- the great and the ordinary -- have our power for a reason. It's to use for the good. None of us are here for ourselves alone. We are here for each other.
We can't be the ones negotiating a ceasefire, but we can pray for one. We can't be on the ground caring for the wounded or comforting the bereaved or housing, but we can support those who are. Episcopal Relief & Development remains in constant touch with the Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Suheil S. Dawani and with Al Ahli Hospital central Gaza City. The hospital is now treating more than 50 injured civilians every day. The hospital staff is working around the clock to provide emergency medical care. Recently, the hospital finally received a delivery of desperately needed medicine, supplies, blankets, and food -- the ongoing fighting makes such deliveries difficult and dangerous. Episcopal Relief & Development also continues to send funds to help the hospital meet the rising costs of treating patients.
This is our work. Others carry it out for us, but we fund it through our ER&D donations. It literally cannot happen without us.
To learn more about ER&D's work or to make a donation, visit www.er-d.org or telephone 1-800-334-7626.