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NOT PEACE, BUT A SWORD / OUR REWARD, PHASE II
June 23, 2005
 
oday's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be heard in many churches this Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMo. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry to those who suffer in natural disasters and as a result of war or political unrest, focuses on the work 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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Not Peace, But A Sword

Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34

There is a cost to spiritual and moral integrity. Nobody else can pay it for you, and those closest to you may be fearful of your willingness to pay it yourself -- you might suffer for what you believe, and they don't want that for you. We see Mary, the mother of our Lord, trying to get in between him and his destiny a couple of times -- once when he was twelve on the way home from the temple, another time when he was as grown man, healing and preaching, and she came with his siblings to try to talk him into coming home. Where it was safe.

Faith is too important a thing to allow anyone else to decide it for you -- even someone who loves you. We can raise our children in our faith, but they will, in the end, decide how to live it on their own. How, or even whether to live it -- the choice is theirs, not ours.

No wonder a sword is what comes to Jesus' mind as he speaks about the cost of discipleship. The very fact of love can hold us back from following. Real anger might confront us, anger from people we don't want ever to lose.

But love never ends, and it is stronger than hate. What remains between people who love but disagree remains, and the anger of it fades eventually, to be replaced by respect. It may be grudging at first, but blood really is thicker than water.

Sometimes we are parted by death before this healing can happen. That hurts mightily: Now I'll never get a chance to make things right with my mom. Oh yes, you will. The dead are in Christ, and understand a lot more than they used to. A lot more than we do, come to think of it.

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Isaiah 2:10-17
Romans 6:3-11
Matthew 10:34-42
Psalm 89:1-18 or 89:1-4,15-18
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And here is the ERD meditation:

Our Reward, Phase II

Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple-- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.
Matthew 10:42


In the first weeks after the Indian Ocean tsunami, the needs were clear and acute: water, shelter, food, medicine, now. Six months later, the situation in stricken areas is less acute but more complicated: now the need is for permanence and planning for life as it will be in future, for it will never again be as it was in the past. Some people won't ever be able to return to their homes, their businesses. Some islands are permanently uninhabitable, and whole villages will arise in a completely new location.

In both the acute and the ongoing stages of its response, Episcopal Relief and Development has seen the largest outpouring of financial support in its history: more than $11 million to date. ERD's stewardship of our generosity will unfold in three stages: the initial rescue phase, the recovery phase (where we are now) and the long-term rehabilitation phase, which will continue at least until 2008.

From a waterproof-and-wood shelter to a permanent home. From a rain barrel to a well. A new boat with which to explore changed fishing grounds and rebuild the fishing industry upon which so many in the region depend. A micro-loan to reestablish a family business; new livestock to reestablish a family farm. Schools reopened.

We are directly involved in this resurrection. Life is still hard in ways we would be hard pressed even to imagine, but there are more smiles to be found in Sri Lanka, in Tamil Nadu, on the inhabited Andamar and Nicobar islands now, on the faces of some people who must have thought they'd never smile again. There is concrete hope for livable life, with a plan to make it happen and the resources to bring it about.

And we have the amazing privilege of helping it all happen. For these and all his mercies, God's holy name be praised.

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To learn more about Episcopal Relief and Development or to make a donation, visit www.er-d.org or cal 1-800-34-7626, ext 5129.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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