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.
A Merry Chase
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Looks like it's no easy thing to "keep Jesus' words" -- we need an Advocate to help us do it. Someone alive, present with us now. Someone who is more than just the repository of Jesus' ideas.
The fact that the Spirit is alive informs our attitude to scripture. The Advocate -- one of Jesus' terms for the Holy Spirit -- is alive in every generation, and so the Bible can never be read as legacy alone. It can never be a recipe book. Although the canon is scripture is closed -- there won't be any more books added to the Bible -- the conversation with scripture must continue as a conversation. Each generation engages in it, and that engagement will always show the signs of its era.
This is not the failure of moral nerve or craven knuckling under to trendiness that people sometimes think it is. We think that because God does not change we shouldn't, but we are not God. We won't be able to shirk our responsibility to live in the era in which we have been born and to deal with it face to face, and we won't be able to hide from it in some other era.
Because we remember a few things about the spirit: how free it is, how it brings order out of chaos, how it hovers over places in which the presence of God is not yet obvious. We remember that its presence in the world preceded the presence of the Church -- the Spirit makes the Church, not the other way around. Spirit is mighty; it is not always gentle. It cannot be domesticated. Spirit leads us; it does not follow us. And following it can be a merry chase, if we will only allow ourselves to trust in its goodness.
Easter VI, Year C
Acts 16:9-15 + Psalm 67 + Rev. 21:10,22-22:5 + John 14:23-29 or 5:1-9
And here is the ERD meditation:
A Dealer in Purple Cloth
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. -Acts 16:14
We think of women in the ancient world in much the same way as we think of women in developing countries: powerless, downtrodden, silent. But look again: Lydia is a cloth merchant, a business woman. She's done all right, it seems: she has a house large enough to invite Paul and his companions to lodge in it while they are visiting Macedonia. And she is a leader in other ways, as well: she has brought her whole household to the river in order to hear what the visitor has to say.
There is power, and then there is power. Some power is easy to see, but quiet power is still power. It was certainly true that many kinds of power weren't available to Lydia because she was a woman and not a man. But she set herself to using the power that was available to her, and she did well.
Women in poor countries also live in a man's world. But they do have the power they do have, and they use it. The growth of microfinance has caught our imagination in wealthy countries: start a business, and one day you, too, can be successful. Small loans, primarily to women in poor communities, enable them to buy and sell and grow, and enable their communities to grow with them. The borrowers are famous, in the wary world of moneylending, for their impressive payback rate.
Is microfinance the whole answer to world poverty? No, there will always be a need for direct provision of aid in some places at some times. But it has always been true that the help that lasts is help that enables local initiative. It has always been true -- from Biblical times -- that women will move heaven and earth to ensure the well-being of their families. Enable them, and they will take see to it.
Through Episcopal Relief and Development, we -- who have so much --partner with local cooperative lending organizations in many poor countries, providing them with additional lending capital for microfinance, giving people who have very little a chance to use what they do have and make their own lives permanently better.
To learn more about ERD, or to make a donation, visit http://www.er-d.org/ or telephone 1-80-334-7626, ext 5129.
Life on the Farm
Join economist Carol Stone in looking back on Ways of the World's 1st year on the Geranium Farm, and tell her what you'd like to read about in future. Deacon J remembers that the Farm wasn't her first important Geranium experience in More or Less Church. Debbie Loeb has finally succeeded in capturing Matt the Web Dude's (and Jen the Web Dudette's) amazing pictures of their honeymoon visit to Vietnam for the Hodgepodge, just as they prepare to leave for...Belize! And Fr. Matthew contends with... LEVIATHAN!...on Fr. Matthew Presents. All at http://www.geraniumfarm.org/.
Upcoming sermons by Barbara Crafton:
Sunday May 13th in two locations:
St. Luke's in Metuchen, NJ at 8am and 10 am (http://www.stlukes17.org/)
Dignity/NY at 7:30pm, St. John's in the Village, 224 W. 11th Street, NYC 10014. http://www.dignityny.org/about_us/index.html
Thursday, May 17th, Feast of the Ascension, 7:30 pm at the Church of the Ascension on Staten Island, where Buddy Stallings is rector. Ascension is located at 1 Kingsley Ave. Staten Island, NY 10314-2420, 718-442-4187.
Sunday, May 20 at St. Andrew's, Newcastle, Maine at 8am, 9:15am and 11am. http://standrews-newcastle.org/
Sunday, May 27, The Cathedral of All Souls, Asheville, NC at 8am, 9am and 11:15am. http://www.allsoulscathedral.org/
May 19, "Aging Is Not For Sissies" at St. Mark's in Waterville, Maine. Sponsored by the Diocesan Commission on Aging. Call 207- 872-7869
May 27-31, "Gardens and Grace" at Kanuga in Hendersonville, NC.
August 3-5, "Soul of the Earth" with environmentalist and MacArthur fellow Majora Carter and Barbara Crafton at Trinity Conference Center in West Cornwall, CT. Get details about both on the Farm's homepage, http://www.geraniumfarm.org/home.cfm