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SPOOKS IN THE GARDEN, SPIDERS ON THE PORCH / NEW HOUSES FOR OLD
October 12, 2006
 
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be used 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 work of the church with the poor and those who suffer, explores an aspect of Episcopal Relief and Development's ministry. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.


Spooks in the Garden, Spiders on the Porch

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
Mark 10:24


The spider web hangs a little low -- I secured the corners from the same nails we use to hang the Christmas garlands, and the web is designed to stretch and stretch until it is thin as a thread. The postman will have to duck his head in order to come ring the front doorbell. Perfect.

The web came with a selection of black and albino plastic spiders, and I had retained two fat black ones from last year. So we have our spider needs covered, more or less. And I have a new skeleton, who hangs from the redbud tree just as Judas did, the legend goes, in his remorse at his own treachery. So the skeleton is named Judas.

What's wrong with his hip? Q asked when he came out to admire my handiwork so far.

A skeleton has a hard time keeping any orthopedic secrets: Judas' sacrum seemed to be where his pubic bone should have been. In fact, on closer inspection, his whole pelvis seemed to be on backwards. In further fact -- what's this?-- his whole body was on backwards. It proved simpler, in the end, just to turn his head around.

I'm not finished out there. A garland of witches on broomsticks and another of pumpkins, and two strings of leaves. Then the actual pumpkins, of course, which we will carve into the usual jack o'lanterns.

I spent a few years regarding the dramatic upswing in Halloween outdoor decoration with a disapproving sniff, before deciding that it was just another way to have fun and why not have as much fun as you can? So I shocked my grown children and grandchildren last year by joining in, moving beyond the carving of pumpkins into faces in the hanging of ghosts, the lining of the walk with little pumpkin lamps to light the way to the door, the dangling of spiders into spaces where they would brush the faces of unwary guests.

This was a good move. Before the change, or tick-or-treat guests were few and far between. The Geranium Farm's house is tall and purple and oddly shaped enough by day: it could be truly frightening by night, and small children feared to approach. But get a few plastic spiders and a string of witches out in front, and people understand where you're coming from.

I want the trick-or-treaters to come, want them like I want hummingbirds in the summer: little beings, bright and interesting, shy and beautiful, little beings who might come closer if you offer just the right things to attract them. And have something to feed them when they come. I want them to come to our house and see that it is not scary, that it is friendly and good, that it is warm and beautiful inside, that the people in it love them from afar and wish them well in every way you can wish a child well, which is a lot of ways. I want them to remember childhood this way: People would help you if you needed help. People were good. Old people were like grandmothers and grandfathers, even if you weren't related to them. Many people loved me, just because I was little and needed love. Even people I didn't know were happy just to see me. And we cut our terrors out of colored paper with our blunt-end scissors, drew cartoons of witches, dressed up like monsters, and we were so safe that we laughed and laughed at them. And we were not afraid at all.

I want them to remember that there was a time when they laughed at scary things, laughed at their own fear. May then, when the kingdom of God draws near and they are afraid of it, perhaps they will remember another time when something seemed frightening at first and ended up being perfectly wonderful.




Amos 5:6-7,10-15
Hebrews 3:1-6
Mark 10:17-27(28-31)
Psalm 90 or 90:1-8,12

New Houses for Old

The builder of a house has more honor than the house itself....
Hebrews 3:3

I think those are the steps,
the man said as he walked a radio journalist around what was left of his town. The steps of his mother-in-law's house are steps he's sat on a thousand times to watch the moon rise over the river. But everything is so confused now, even after all this time has passed since the hurricane, that he can't actually be sure where anything is. Maybe these are somebody else's steps.

And in tsunami-stricken Indonesia, South India, in Thailand, a family might have lived in the same house for generations -- hundreds of years. But things like deeds, lot numbers, titles -- the sorts of things western investors want to see before they build -- they had never had anything like that. Not before the tsunami, and not afterwards, either.

Putting up temporary shelters is hard work, but at least it goes fast. You can make a tent town in a couple of days. Rebuilding a townful of permanent houses is something else, something slow and frustrating. A community can't come back until the people who will work there can also live there, until they can bring their children back with them. Everything is linked together in the ecology of rebuilding: I need a job and a house and a school and a clinic and a store and a clean well, and I need them all now.

It takes cool heads to put it all together, people who can keep their eyes on a prize almost impossible to see at first. In each rebuilding community of which Episcopal Relief and Development becomes a part, it settles in for the long haul. No matter how chaotic a disaster renders a town, there will come a time when what is unclear and jumbled will straighten out. It will not always be like this.
+
To read up-to-the-minute news about the long process of rebuilding in the American Gulf Coast and in the tsunami-stricken regions of the Indian Ocean, visit http://www.er-d.org/.

+
Quilts in the Hodge Podge! Cats and dogs in More or Less Church! A factual --but somehow encouraging-- article about beginning to save money regularly, in Ways of the World. And 457 candles burning brightly on the Vigils pages. Visit http://www.geraniumfarm.org/ andtakea look.
+
A second teleclass on forgiveness has been setup by eMinistries Network to handle the overflow of requests to join the first one. Please contact elizabeth@eministrynetwork.org to sign up.










































Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be used 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 work of the church with the poor and those who suffer, explores an aspect of Episcopal Relief and Development's ministry. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.


Spooks in the Garden, Spiders on the Porch

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
Mark 10:24

The spider web hangs a little low -- I secured the corners from the same nails we use to hang the Christmas garlands, and the web is designed to stretch and stretch until it is thin as a thread. The postman will have to duck his head in order to come ring the front doorbell. Perfect.

The web came with a selection of black and albino plastic spiders, and I had retained two fat black ones from last year. So we have our spider needs covered, more or less. And I have a new skeleton, who hangs from the redbud tree just as Judas did, the legend goes, in his remorse at his own treachery. So the skeleton is named Judas.

What's wrong with his hip? Q asked when he came out to admire my handiwork so far.

A skeleton has a hard time keeping any orthopedic secrets: Judas' sacrum seemed to be where his pubic bone should have been. In fact, on closer inspection, his whole pelvis seemed to be on backwards. In further fact -- what's this?-- his whole body was on backwards. It proved simpler, in the end, just to turn his head around.

I'm not finished out there. A garland of witches on broomsticks and another of pumpkins, and two strings of leaves. Then the actual pumpkins, of course, which we will carve into the usual jack o'lanterns.

I spent a few years regarding the dramatic upswing in Halloween outdoor decoration with a disapproving sniff, before deciding that it was just another way to have fun and why not have as much fun as you can? So I shocked my grown children and grandchildren last year by joining in, moving beyond the carving of pumpkins into faces in the hanging of ghosts, the lining of the walk with little pumpkin lamps to light the way to the door, the dangling of spiders into spaces where they would brush the faces of unwary guests.

This was a good move. Before the change, or tick-or-treat guests were few and far between. The Geranium Farm's house is tall and purple and oddly shaped enough by day: it could be truly frightening by night, and small children feared to approach. But get a few plastic spiders and a string of witches out in front, and people understand where you're coming from.

I want the trick-or-treaters to come, want them like I want hummingbirds in the summer: little beings, bright and interesting, shy and beautiful, little beings who might come closer if you offer just the right things to attract them. And have something to feed them when they come. I want them to come to our house and see that it is not scary, that it is friendly and good, that it is warm and beautiful inside, that the people in it love them from afar and wish them well in every way you can wish a child well, which is a lot of ways. I want them to remember childhood this way: People would help you if you needed help. People were good. Old people were like grandmothers and grandfathers, even if you weren't related to them. Many people loved me, just because I was little and needed love. Even people I didn't know were happy just to see me. And we cut our terrors out of colored paper with our blunt-end scissors, drew cartoons of witches, dressed up like monsters, and we were so safe that we laughed and laughed at them. And we were not afraid at all.

I want them to remember that there was a time when they laughed at scary things, laughed at their own fear. May then, when the kingdom of God draws near and they are afraid of it, perhaps they will remember another time when something seemed frightening at first and ended up being perfectly wonderful.




Amos 5:6-7,10-15
Hebrews 3:1-6
Mark 10:17-27(28-31)
Psalm 90 or 90:1-8,12

New Houses for Old

The builder of a house has more honor than the house itself....
Hebrews 3:3

I think those are the steps, the man said as he walked a radio journalist around what was left of his town. The steps of his mother-in-law's house are steps he's sat on a thousand times to watch the moon rise over the river. But everything is so confused now, even after all this time has passed since the hurricane, that he can't actually be sure where anything is. Maybe these are somebody else's steps.

And in tsunami-stricken Indonesia, South India, in Thailand, a family might have lived in the same house for generations -- hundreds of years. But things like deeds, lot numbers, titles -- the sorts of things western investors want to see before they build -- they had never had anything like that. Not before the tsunami, and not afterwards, either.

Putting up temporary shelters is hard work, but at least it goes fast. You can make a tent town in a couple of days. Rebuilding a townful of permanent houses is something else, something slow and frustrating. A community can't come back until the people who will work there can also live there, until they can bring their children back with them. Everything is linked together in the ecology of rebuilding: I need a job and a house and a school and a clinic and a store and a clean well, and I need them all now.

It takes cool heads to put it all together, people who can keep their eyes on a prize almost impossible to see at first. In each rebuilding community of which Episcopal Relief and Development becomes a part, it settles in for the long haul. No matter how chaotic a disaster renders a town, there will come a time when what is unclear and jumbled will straighten out. It will not always be like this.
+
To read up-to-the-minute news about the long process of rebuilding in the American Gulf Coast and in the tsunami-stricken regions of the Indian Ocean, visit http://www.er-d.org/.

+
Quilts in the Hodge Podge! Cats and dogs in More or Less Church! A factual --but somehow encouraging-- article about beginning to save money regularly, in Ways of the World. And 457 candles burning brightly on the Vigils pages. Visit http://www.geraniumfarm.org/ andtakea look.
+
A second teleclass on forgiveness has been setup by eMinistries Network to handle the overflow of requests to join the first one. Please contact elizabeth@eministrynetwork.org to sign up.
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