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LATER -- AND LOWER -- THAN WE THINK AND A SIMPLE SAVING OF CHILDREN'S LIVES
October 20, 2004
 
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be read in church this Sunday: the first is the usual sermon preparation eMo, and the second is intended for preachers who wish to focus their attention on the Church's work among the suffering 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.

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Later -- and Lower -- Than We Think

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:14


Dreams, lately, of the humiliation, shaming kind: I am in a public place and find to my horror that I have neglected to wear a skirt. I open my mouth to speak before a crowd of people and find that I am mute. The people who invited me are angry; the audience grows impatient -- finally I slink off the stage in utter defeat, attempting to explain to someone, anyone, but unable to speak.

You mustn't blow your own horn. Don't talk about what you do well. Don't admit to doing anything well. Be modest and self-effacing. It's very wrong to be proud of yourself.

And something bad will happen if you are. Like forgetting to wear your skirt. Or losing your voice. Is there someone, somewhere who has not known the struggle between the sense of giftedness and the reality of falling short? Someone who has not longed for credit where credit is due, and then felt ashamed of that longing? Where does honest delight in accomplishment end and pride begin?

The truth is, it is not just those who exalt themselves who will be humbled: we will all be humbled. None of us are getting out of here alive, and the dying are not ordinarily the picture of health and strength: we all have some tough times ahead. This passage may be much less about cultivating a neurotic reluctance to commend the good that is in us than it is about the mortality we all share.

We will all fall, but those who refuse to humble themselves beforehand will fall farther. Those for whom any sort of self-denial is an outrage are certain to be outraged by what is certain to happen to them one day. Those unaccustomed to doing without will suffer more; they won't be used to it. Now is the time to cultivate resources other than those upon which the world depends, resources within ourselves, things that cannot be taken from us when everything else has been.

Those who have nothing else continue to have the love of God. Those who have much have the love of God, too. Rummage among your many possessions now, and find it in an unexpected place within you, against the time when you, too, have only that love to sustain you.

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Jeremiah 14:(1-6)7-10,19-22
Ps 84
II Timothy 3:6-8,16-18
Luke 18:9-14

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And here's the ERD meditation:

A Simple Saving of Children's Lives

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:14


Ask a person who has lived in a tropical country is she has malaria 00 she may not have the disease, but she won't be surprised at the question, or at your use of the present tense in asking it. Many people know its unmistakable prelude: sudden fatigue, chills, know to get themselves to a place where they can lie down and endure the fever, uncontrollable shaking, even coma they know is coming. Malaria doesn't have a cure 00 it comes and goes as long as the person afflicted with it lives. If you're lucky, you don't die from it, although the fever can go so high it kills you. You will definitely die with it, though, and a malaria attack can leave you weak for weeks afterward.

But small children who contract are in grave danger of dying from the effects of dehydration and anemia that accompany malarial infection. One in twenty children in Africa dies from the disease, and in some afflicted areas the number rises to one is six.

There are drugs to ease malaria patients through their attacks, or even to ward them off -- the famous one is quinine, which provided generations with a rationale for the oceans of tonic drinks consumed throughout the British Empire. But now there are newer, more sophisticated -- if less convivial -- ways of administering quinine and other drug therapies for the disease.

Still, it remains true that the best way to deal with treat malaria is never to get it. And the best way to accomplish this is the simplest: sleep under mosquito netting treated with an insecticide that will hurt the malaria-bearing mosquitoes but won't hurt you. You don't need a doctor or a drug to give this protection to your child. Every mother can do it. A simple solution to a grave medical danger.

Through Episcopal Relief and Development's malaria program, mothers in Zambia and in the Democratic Republic of Congo re being given the nets for use in their homes, instructed in their use and in spotting the early signs of malarial infection in their children. When infection does occur, especially in a child, ERD gives health workers, hospitals and clinics in the isolated villages anti-malarial drugs and trains them in their effective use -- early in the course of an individual's infection, while there still may be time to arrest the deadly progress of the most dangerous symptoms.

The sophisticated drugs and the trained health care professionals are of great value. But it is the simple nets and the watchful mothers upon which the future health of these poor communities depend most. A simple tool, used by humble people, and the whole village is exalted: a safer childhood for each of its children.

To learn more about ERD's work with the suffering, visit http://www.er-d.org/ or call 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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