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 is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry to the poor and victims of natural disasters or 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.
The Lord Will Provide
...but what good are these for so many?"
Well, that depends -- how foolish are you willing to be?
But it could get really ugly. There are way more of them than there are of us.
Yeah. But then, a lot of them won't like a three-mile hike back to town in the dark, either.
But what happens when we run out? Five loaves and two fish aren't enough. We won't be able to feed everyone!
And how many are you feeding now?
Well, what's our exit strategy?
What's an exit strategy?
No, I mean, I don't like this. This is not going to end well.
It hasn't ended yet. Just wait and see. Trust me.
Sometimes, you have to start your good thing, even if you don't have an ending clearly in mind. Sometimes you just have to do the good thing right now, even if you don't know how you're going to finish it. Even if you don't have all the pieces yet. Even if you don't know what all the pieces are.
The Lord will provide.
2 Chronicles 36:14-23
And here is the ERD meditation:
Bang for the Buck
"Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" - John 6:3
Over the long haul, there is only one viable answer: we're not going to buy it for them. They're going to buy bread themselves.
Immediately after a disaster, it's food and water and shelter and medical supplies, directly provided by whoever can get there first. If all the local means of production have been destroyed, it's got to come from somewhere else. And so we watch the shocking coverage of a new tragedy on our televisions and we open our checkbooks. Even before we've done that, the planes are in the air and the trucks are on the road, if there is still a road.
But at the same time, those whose business it is to ensure a steady response to disaster -- and not just a heartfelt immediate one -- begin to plan. What is in place now that we can use? How did they eat and drink and clothe themselves before this happened? Who do we know there who can help us respond in a way that will really help, over the long haul? How can we help prepare for the inevitable time when the focus of the news coverage focuses elsewhere? People who have lived through a disaster can't stay in a shelter for the rest of their lives: they need another house. They can't receive direct food aid forever: eventually, and usually very soon, they will need to provide for themselves.
A cornerstone of our participation in the ongoing healing of many stricken region is microfinance and microenterprise. Successful small businesses breed other successful small businesses. Small loans to individuals, that enable them to rebuild the business they had before the disaster or to begin a new one, vocational training and technical advice in starting a new business venture and growing it successfully have, in country after country, been shown to be effective in assisting the permanent recovery of the whole community of which they are a part.
Episcopal Relief and Development, long in relationship with Anglican churches throughout the world, has established these practical microcredit programs in many countries: India, the Philippines, Belize, Brazil, Zambia and Burundi and Malawi and Zimbabwe. As surely as bottled water is an expected part of immediate disaster relief, exploring the potential for microfinance is part of ongoing development.
When Jesus had fed all those people from one little boy's lunch, he had twelve baskets of leftovers. Then, I guess, he moved on to another town, where people also needed him -- now that everybody had what they needed and there was bread enough for another day.
To learn more about ERD's work or to make a donation, visit http://www.er-d.org/ or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.