Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts for this Sunday's liturgy: the usual sermon preparation eMo and a second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's service to the poor and those who suffer 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.
A Life that Longs and Follows
...the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
You come to know Christ by living a life that expects him. Not a life that understands everything about him or a life that never knows a day's uncertainty -- just a life that wants him. Knowing Christ begins with the desire to know him, not with a convincing body of evidence. In matters of faith, evidence does not convince.
Longing and following are what convince us. We are convinced about those things in which we have invested ourselves -- we are simply bored by the things into which we have poured little or nothing: they may be someone else's passions, but they are not ours.
Ordinarily we do not know at first that it is Christ for whom we long. We think it is something else. A girlfriend, please, the perfect woman for me. Dream children, a dream house. The perfect job. The respect we are due. But we may gain some or all of these gifts, and still there is something for which we long.
Gifts don't last. They end when we end. As we proceed, it is something lasting for which we long, and we come to know that there has never been anything lasting except for one thing. And we see that it is Christ, and we see something else, something surprising. At the very moment when we first behold him, we see that we have known him all along. It was Christ we wanted, through all those years of chasing after our dreams. He stood before us with each of them in his generous hand, and we were so entranced with the gifts that we hardly ever noticed him as he handed them to us.
The sooner we can approach our own longing for Christ the more serene our lives will be. The gifts will come and go into all our lives, and we will greet them with delight and relinquish them with a pang each time we must relinquish them. We lose all, all of them. Only Christ remains with us to the end.
And all will be well because he remains. He is no stranger to us. We have known him all the time.
>b> Our Practical Ambassadors of Christ
Another earthquake in Indonesia, just off the island of Nias in that nation of islands. Only three months after the last one, and almost as enormous. At least a thousand dead, probably twice that number when all is said and done, and many more thousands left homeless. Roads have collapsed and some are impassable, making emergency relief delivery a challenge, and there is no running water or electricity on most of Nias. More than half the buildings in the capital city of the island are damaged or destroyed.
The earthquake occurred only three months after a 9.0 magnitude quake struck off the Sumatra coast, causing a tsunami that left almost 220,000 Indonesians dead or missing in December. It is almost more than one country can bear.
But the people of Nias don't have to bear it alone. Episcopal Relief and Development is still there from December's tsunami disaster, a grim good-news-bad-news scenario: suddenly, more dead and missing and injured and homeless, but we could begin to help immediately, because we haven't finished with the recovery from last time.
There are more Muslims in Indonesia than in any other country in the world. These terrible times of tragedy are not Muslim times, though, nor are they Christian times or Jewish times or Hindu times or Buddhist times. They are just human times. ERD works with ecumenical partners everywhere it goes, so that no energy is wasted in establishing our reason for being there, or for staying as long as it takes to do what we do: help with temporary housing, delivery of sanitary drinking water and emergency food rations, emergency medical assistance and careful assistance with long-term recovery and development.
All this is done in our name. Episcopalians could do much worse, as Christians and as Americans, than be represented in multinational, multi-faith partnership by the intelligent, quick compassion of ERD relief workers.
Please pray for people in the aftermath of this crisis. To help families affected buy the earthquake in Indonesia, you can donate to the South Asia Relief Fund at www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129. Or you can mail your donation to Episcopal Relief and Development, c/o South Asia Relief Fund, P.O. Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.