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 service to the poor and those who suffer from the effects of war or natural disaster, explores the 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.
Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.
Mostly, we want to stay in our comfort zone. Water shallow enough so that our feet can touch the bottom, so that we can stand on an earth we recognize, on our own two feet. So that we will be able to walk to safety, if need be.
Well, that's not where the fish are, except for the wonderful denizens of the reef, animals whose strange beauties make you wonder if this can really be Planet Earth. But most of the big guys are farther out there. Out there, which can be a frightening place -- because, after mining, fishing is the most dangerous occupation in the world.
Someone who is not a fisherman comes and tells three experienced people who are to go to the deep water. Someone who is, it would seem, a long way from his own comfort zone. Jesus was willing to go there a lot, it seems. He seems not to have thought he was always supposed to be comfortable.
I'm just not comfortable with that, someone says, as if that statement ended all discussion. But maybe sometimes it shouldn't. Why aren't you comfortable? Is it because you're being asked to think of something you haven't thought of before? Be with someone different from you? Learn something new? Risk something in the service of a great hope?
Actually, to be comforted isn't always to be soothed, as much as we may enjoy soothing. What it really means is to be strengthened. We should all get some practice at living outside our comfort zone, so that when we find ourselves in deep water, we won't panic, won't waste time and effort trying to walk to safety, the way we would if we were on terra firma. Better go there now, sometimes. Better seek it out now, once in a while, get acquainted with that deep water, that unknown place. Get used to being a little afraid, grow in acceptance of it, so that you won't be terrified by your own fear. Learn some new things now, before you need them.
Because you won't be able to walk to safety in the deep water, the way you can on land. You'll have to swim.
I Corinthians 15:1-11
And here is the ERD meditation:
We Will Not Forget You
Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Luke 5:5
In many places in Mississippi and Louisiana, concrete slabs still litter the ground. Many of the ruined houses have yet to be touched. Others are gutted, their roofs still gone or only partially replaced, open to the sky. 135 homes have been replaced by Episcopal Relief and Development. Thousands more are ahead. This will take decades.
Camp Coast Care is the name of the place that makes it all happen. You stay there when you go down to volunteer. You eat there. Maybe you help cook there. You take a shower and do your laundry there, so you can get it filthy again tomorrow working in the muck. You talk to somebody there, if what you're seeing overwhelms you and you wonder if maybe you should have stayed home. Or if you still live around there, and are trying to make it back to something like a normal life.
It's been a long time since Hurricane Katrina. And the recovery is going to take a long time, a longer time. A really long time. The need is great, and it's going to stay that way for years. They still need money and they may still need you: can you cook? Do laundry? Dig? Nail sheetrock? Follow directions? Got some time?
My greatest concern is that people are going to forget, the weary archdeacon told a visitor. He meant us. That we'll just change the channel and leave them alone down there. Volunteers will be needed for years, he said.
You can fish all night and catch nothing. You can work all day, and the next morning it can look like you weren't even there, the job is so big. But one day leads to another, and one person helps another help. Every great task is made up of days and people. It'll get done. It has to. A good man like that shouldn't have to worry that we might forget.
To volunteer at Camp Coast Care, visit www.dioms.org/coastcare.htm. To volunteer in Louisiana, visit www.edola.org.
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.