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BETTING THE FARM / WHO WILL SEPARATE US?
July 27, 2005
 
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be read 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 ministry of the Church to disaster victims and the victims of war through 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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Betting the Farm

They need not go away; you give them something to eat.
Matthew 14:17

Me?!? With what? The five little loaves of pita and two dried fish my wife packed for my lunch this morning? I'm hungry myself.
I could eat three times what I brought and still be hungry.

So you're saying I should take the lunch that isn't even enough for me and give it away? Right. That should work.

Jesus didn't just ask his followers to share from their abundance -- he asked them to share from their scarcity. They didn't have enough for themselves, and he asked them to give it up.

And we know how it ended, of course -- there was no scarcity. There was more than enough for everyone. But the first person who laid his lunch down didn't know that. He was looking at a hungry evening ahead.
And he did it anyway.

Talk about going out on a limb. Most of our giving isn't very risky, but his sure was. Most of us are risk-averse, but sometimes people find the guts to lay it all down, betting everything on what they need, with their hearts in their throats, with no Plan B. A scary thing to do.

But there was more than enough. There still is.

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Nehemiah 9:16-20
Psalm 78:1-29 or 78:14-20,23-29
Romans 8:35-39
Matthew 14:13-21
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And here is the ERD meditation:

Who Will Separate Us?

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:35-36

Some disasters are sudden -- a tornado, a storm, a fire. And some disaster seems to go on and on, one terrible thing leading to another terrible thing, with a few more terrible things thrown on top of the pile for evil measure. It would be hard to come up with country that has known more suffering than little Haiti, the poorest nation in our hemisphere.

Civil unrest makes cities and towns dangerous places indeed -- Just since March, 450 people have been kidnapped for ransom, and hundreds have been killed in the street fighting that is a daily occurrence. Terrible poverty and wretched housing contribute to disease and malnutrition.
Even the natural beauty of the country has been destroyed: colonial overlords took most of the mahogany for their elegant dining sets, and the poor made off with the rest for firewood. There are hardly any trees left in Haiti.

Episcopal Relief and Development's presence in Haiti is ongoing, too, just like the horrors that make it necessary. Haiti is squarely in the path of several hurricanes each years -- ERD need not journey there to assess the needs. Its economic and social development office is already there, helping the Diocese of Haiti manage a many-pronged approach to the many problems Haitians face every day.

The forces arrayed against hope in Haiti are many, and they are powerful. But the love of Christ is mightier than any of them. Those of us who have so much more of the world's goods -- and inherited, perhaps, a fine mahogany table and chairs -- we are the ones who do or do not show forth what Christ is to those who do not know. What we show them is up to us.
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To read more about ERD's programs or to make a donation or volunteer, wisit http://www.er-d.org/ or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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