Today's eMo is actually two different meditations on texts that will be read in many churches this Sunday: the first is the usual sermon preparation eMo, and the second is intended for those who would like to focus on the Church's service to the poor through 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.
Audition: Just Tell Me When It's Over
Go and sit down in the lowest place... Luke 14:9
I'm an excellent therapist, read the man's profile. He wrote it himself. Hmmn, my friend thought. She's a therapist, too, and a fine one. But, while she would certainly include her degrees and membership in professional societies, and offer to provide references from respected colleagues, she would not describe herself as "excellent." She would leave it to others to do that.
I'm creative, a woman tells me. Hmmn. Usually one's work gives the evidence of that, not one's own assessment. That's something someone else ought to say about us. And if it is really true, they will.
I'm a really gifted writer, an aspiring author tells me in an email. Hmmn, I think. Let me be the judge of that.
Self-confidence is important, and there is no place in life for fake humility. But work and the worth of work is essentially communicative -- none of us works in a vacuum. We work in a community, we present our work to a community, and the community assesses its value. All we can do is compete with ourselves, surpass our previous personal best, give the most we can give to our effort in the best way we know how -- and then we must stand back from it and let the world judge it.
To go forth into the world and present what you have made. To send off a manuscript to an editor who seems distant and demanding, like the Puritan version of God. To show your essay to someone else who knows what good is. Your painting, to a real painter. A dress you have made to someone who makes all her own gorgeous clothes. Your sweater, a cake. Your first lesson plan. Your first solo performance. Your first poem. Your first business plan. You are surprised at the dread you feel -- after all, you're well trained, fully prepared. Maybe you've been working for years. But still, you close your eyes at the unveiling: just tell me when it's over.
I don't think I'll take the place of honor. Let me just sit down here, at the end the table, and I think I'll put my head down on my plate.
"Here Comes the Wife"
When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who has invited both of you may come and say to you, "Give this person your place," and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, "Friend, move up higher;" then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. Luke 14:8-9
Such weddings could go on for days. They could -- and still do -- consume a year's worth and more of a family's substance. And the elaborateness of the wedding he put on for his daughter was -- and is -- a significant measure of a man's stature in his community.
So the wedding is one thing, but the marriage is another. Once the bride has put away her finery and her father has paid all the bills, she isn't a bride any more -- she's a wife. Her skill and wisdom was then -- and still is -- every bit as important as that of her husband of the family is to prosper.
So the empowerment of women is, in every way, an important part of strengthening every sector of a poor nation's economy.
Electra lives in Panchimalquito (Pan-chee-mal-KEE-toe), El Salvador. Panchimalquito is one of 48 rural communities in which women participate in a program that has increased their income and improved the nutritional well-being of their families. She and 25 neighbors each received eight hens and two roosters from Episcopal Relief and Development and CREDHO, a local foundation for the empowerment of the poor. They also received training in mixing and feeding the chickens a locally available diet that promoted their health and and fertility, and in vaccinating them against common diseases. They check with each other frequently, trading tips about managing their flocks, about sharing the cost of vaccines. Now Electra has plenty of chickens and plenty of eggs to feed her grandchildren and the rest of her family, increasing the level of protein in their diets, and plenty of eggs left over to sell in the local market.
Once Electra was a bride, excited an expectant about her new life with her new husband. It seemed to her that she would depend on him for everything in her life. Now she is a grandmother, and many grandchildren depend on her. In what is certainly still a man's world, Electra and her friends quietly used their energy, wisdom and friendship to make life better for everyone in town.
To learn more about ERD, including its most recent disaster relief in Florida after the devastation of Hurricane Charley, go to http://www.er-d.org/, or call 1800-334-7626, ext 5129.