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 Church's work with the poor and those who suffer, explores the worldwide 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.
The Word of God
And the Word became flesh and lived among us...
Although it's not obvious to us, "The Word of God" and "The Son of God" refer to the same thing. When "The Word of God" is used in this way, it has nothing to do with the words of scripture -- that's a different kind of "word." Words on a page are lower-case "words." Jesus is upper-case.
Remember that God speaks the world into being, in the book of Genesis. Light and darkness, the sun and the moon, plants and animals, us -- God names them all and then there they are. God's Word creates. And the relationship between God's speaking a creative word and the Son of God is that a Being who is alone has no need to speak. At most, such a being need only think. To have a Word at all must mean that someone is there to hear.
All this is why we say that everything was created by God the Father through God the Son. If that distinction seems fairly minor to us, it didn't to people long ago. Some of them killed each other over it. We no longer do that; we kill each other over other things.
And so the first chapter of John, though lovely, seems abstract to us. Hard to picture, what with no baby and no mother and no shepherds and no nothing, except for the mysterious Word. But the flesh is there, and there is an us among whom the Word dwells. There is an austere excitement in the elegant cadences of these verses, a mysterious sense that something is about to happen, that the stage is being set for a play that will speak directly to our fear of being overtaken by all the darkness of which the world is all to capable. The back of your neck tingles when you hear these ancient words, and you don't really know why.
Yes, there is darkness. Yes, there is betrayal. Yes, those from whom you have a right to expect fairness may be cruel instead, sometimes, and you may never know why. You may fear being overcome by the darkness, but the light will not be overcome. Flesh though we are, and therefore temporary, we can find the light and hold onto it if we decide that's what we want to do. We know it's here somewhere, that Word that brought us into being. Because without it we wouldn't be here, and here we are.
Christmas I, Year C (These are the Christmas I lessons every year)
And here is the ERD meditation:
Civil War and Civil Healing
He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.
Civil war is an especially savage kind of war -- all war is hell, but not all war involves so bald a betrayal of the bonds of shared history and kinship. Civil war pits brother against brother, in spirit if not in the flesh, people who have much more in common than they have
separating them, choosing estrangement over relationship.
The civil war in Liberia has been among the worst of them all, although competition for that distinction is surely keen. It went on for 14 long years. It killed 200,000 Liberians and wounded hundreds of thousand more. It sprinkled lethal land mines across the countryside, and destroyed much of the infrastructure the country would need if it were ever to emerge from the abyss -- roads, airports, railroads, farms -- as if to ensure that nobody who survived the war, on either side, would thrive.
Episcopal Relief and Development supports a health clinic at the Bromley Mission School in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city. Bromley has a distinguished history: it has educated Liberian girls for more than 100 years. Bromley was closed during the war, and only reopened in 2003. Today, most students at the school come from the Internally Displaced Persons camps that surround Monrovia, and sixty girls, ages 6 to 14, board there. Almost all of them are orphans of the war. The clinic serves the local community, offering maternal and infant health care as well as immunizations and curative treatment for common diseases.
Slowly, Liberia emerges from its civil nightmare. Sound bodies and the curious minds of childhood are not too much to ask for its young people now, after all this. To help bring them back to the Bromley Mission School is an honor we can know this very day, without even leaving our desks.
To learn more, or to make a donation, visit http://www.er-d.org/ or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
A Closer Walk With God, For People On the Run:
8 Sunday Evenings in February and March at St.Bart's, NYC
Been away from faith for a while? Or never had much exposure to it at all? Have a few doubts? More than a few? Or just want to learn more and talk it all over with some good folks? A simple meal, a talk and some open discussion at a round table. You're out by 6:45, and St.Bart's 'Emerge' worship service begins at 7pm, if you'd like to stick around and check it out.
Get more info and register at St Bart's Central, 212-378-0222.