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THE TRUTH, FOR ONCE
October 27, 2004
 
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on the texts that will be heard in many churches 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 service to 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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The Truth, For Once


A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
Luke 19:3-4


I suppose everyone in the crowd laughed when they saw Zaccheus run for the tree and then scramble up into its branches - that's something a kid might do, not the chief tax collector. The chic dinner party later on, sure -- that was a power occasion. But it was an odd thing, for one of the town's richer citizens, to draw attention to his short stature by shinnying up a tree so that he could see better.

So it seems to me that Jesus' kind attention to the compromised little man fell on fertile soil that had been prepared for his arrival by the sad fact of Zaccheus' discouragement, by his longing for things to be different in his life. Zaccheus was ready. He came into the situation longing to be changed. Willing to be undignified, laughed at, anything if he could just have a chance to be something other than what he was: a tax collector who cheated people.

Whether or not anyone else ever knows about them, we each know lots of ways in which we could be better than we are. However Zaccheus had explained his ethics to himself throughout his career, in his heart he knew that collecting taxes from his own people for an occupying power was not what he wanted to do with his life.

I'll stop after the New Year. I'll stop in three weeks. I'll stop soon. I've got to stop someday. I'm trying to stop. He must have thought these things about his life every day as he prepared for work. He hated what he was. He would be different. He would change. He would do it soon.

Somehow Jesus looked at him with kindness and he knew that soon had become now. What are you waiting for? When is it ever going to be easier to stop than it is right now? Three weeks from now will be just like today. Jesus looks at him and Zacheus realizes that there is no longer any reason to wait to change, because it has never been true that he could change himself all by himself, and it never would be. Before him was the Presence he needed to begin. And he climbed down and stood before the Lord -- looking up at him, for once not needing to rearrange the power architecture of the encounter by somehow getting up higher, by remaining seated while others stood, content to be short and in need and sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The truth, for once. It sets you free.
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Isaiah 1:10-20 *Ps32 * II Thessalonians 1:1-5(6-10)11-12* Luke 19:1-10

And here is the ERD meditation:

For the Son of Man came to seek and serve the lost.
Luke 19:1-10


We don't yet know how many lives Hurricane Jeanne claimed in Haiti. We may never know -- it is always hard to count the poor, hard to know where the homeless live, hard to know where a child went whose only home was in the street. One thing is certain: when Jeanne struck, thousands of people in Haiti had nowhere to go and no way to get there.

Every victim of the recent terrible hurricane season, no matter where, is a grievous loss. But the heavy losses in Haiti, the poorest nation in our hemisphere, still reeling from civil strife and this year's earlier flooding, tugs especially at the hearts of those planners and workers from Episcopal Relief and Development who have become involved with the courageous ministries of service in the Diocese of Haiti, the Episcopal Church's newest Diocese.

Action is one antidote to despair: the people at ERD will never know
why it is that the people of Haiti must suffer so, but at least they know what to do. The organization is practiced at fast and effective emergency relief, at knowing what is needed and knowing how to get it there. Grief cannot be allowed to paralyze the living: that another thousand or more may have died must not slow the drive to save those
who remain, and give them a chance to rebuild their lives.

And there is another antidote, an earlier one - the first one. Prayer unites us with those for whom we pray, bringing all of us under the roof of the divine love. ERD is using its quick expertise and the funds we give to support the Church's hospitals, food and clothing distribution and rebuilding programs there. And each appeal it sends us for help in this good work comes with prayer that God will move our hearts to respond.
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To learn more about ERD's response to the victims of hurricanes in Haitai and elsewhere, visit www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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