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EVERYONE WILL KNOW / IN THE MIDST OF A FLOOD, A SPRING
May 4, 2007
 
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 eMos. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry to the poor and those who suffer because of war or natural disaster, explores 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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Everyone Will Know

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -- John 13:35

Not that we won't make any mistakes. Not that we'll be sinless. Not that we'll agree on everything important. None of these will certify our discipleship. The imprint of our love for Jesus and his love for us will be shown in the way we treat one another.

We so want to be right, and we hanker after a quick way to experience our own rightness, which is usually to find someone nearby who is wrong. We hope to shine righteously against the surly backdrop of someone else's conspicuous sin.

As always, it is worth pointing out that the people in the New Testament most interested in visible rightness are the scribes and Pharisees. Time and again, Jesus challenges them to look behind the regulations they so zealously protect to the purpose behind the rules, the spirit of the law. That this is as frequently true in the gospels is a sign that following Christ probably won't be a way to avoid the difficult and delicate process of ethical discernment, a subtle art sometimes subversive of the usual ways of the world. Christian ethics probably won't be bullet points.

Who will know we are Christians by our love? Everyone, Jesus says. The love we show won't be primarily seen in the negative, as a simple list of things from which we refrain. It will probably be a story of things we do, ways in which we step into a hurting world and actively participate in its healing. People will see it -- not just us, not just the insiders. Everyone.

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Easter V, Year C
Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35
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And here is the ERD meditation:

In the Midst of a Flood, A Spring

To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life." -- Revelation 21:6

"The spring of the water of life" is strong but gentle, life-giving: a spring, not a flood. All living things need water, but they need it to come gently. One of the great paradoxes of a terrible flood is that there is water everywhere, torrents of it -- but people will sicken and even die if they drink it. And the same water that a plant needs in order to grow will kill the plant if there is too much of it too fast.

Major flooding occurred in Southern Africa during an unusually severe rainy season. Many people lost their homes, and roads and bridges were destroyed by the floods as well, making it difficult to get needed supplies to remote villages. Zambian farmers raise ground nuts, maize, cotton, and soya beans; many of them have lost entire crops, and must quickly re-seed in order to have any harvest at all.

The Zambian Anglican Council is coordinating the Church's disaster relief in the communities of Luapula and Lusaka, with assistance from Episcopal Relief and Development. Replacing lost farming equipment, seeds, food and emergency medical supplies, we continue a working relationship already established in other ongoing efforts, like the perennial fight against malaria, which kills 20% of pregnant women in Zambia and 40% of Zambian children under the age of five.

The worldwide Anglican communion is a great gift: within the bonds of mutual affection it affords us all, we can know one another, even though miles of ocean and oceans of cultural difference separate us. We can move quickly when a member of the family needs help. We're as thirsty for these chances to show forth the love of God as those who need our help are to receive it. The spring of the water of life pours its goodness on giver and recipient alike.
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To learn more about ERD, or to make a donation, visit http://www.er-d.org/ or telephone 1-80-334-7626, ext 5129.
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