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NOBODY KNOWS / WITH ONLY THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACKS
November 30, 2007
 
Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be heard 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 victims of natural disasters and war, considers some aspect of 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.

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Nobody Knows


..no one knows...and they knew nothing...for you do not know...if the owner of the house had known...
Matthew 24:36-44


When will the world end? When will Christ return? When will God act? What will happen in the future? Nobody can know the answer to any of these. More than anything else, this passage is about not knowing.

Past experience is no guarantee of future performance, the stockbroker ads warn hurriedly at the end of their pitch. Theologian Paul Tillich famously said that the most painful human reality is that we don't know, yet must choose. Every day, we must make important decisions on the basis of very partial information -- at best. Our most informed choice is never more than an educated guess. I can understand the past, but the future remains a mystery until it has happened. Certainty is not something we possess, not about anything and certainly not about God.

So it is wise to be ready for more than one thing to happen. You might have decades left to live, but the end could come later this afternoon. Will today be a day suitable to be the last day lf your life? Will what you do and how you comport yourself be important, worthy of being the AMEN to your whole life? Who will Christ find, when he finds you? Maybe we can't know when we will die, but we can at least know who it is who is dying.

Bless your day. May it be a day that counts. May it be one in which any regrets are not regrets you caused, to yourself or to anybody else. May fear be far from it, and may the welcome Christ has prepared for you be visibly nearer.
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ADvent I Year A
Isaiah 2:1-5
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:36-44
Psalm 122
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And here is the ERD meditation:

With Only the Clothes on Their Backs

They shall beat their swords into plowshares,and their spears into pruning hooks;nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. --Isaiah 2:4

We read about Burma in the paper all the time -- we're never quite sure whether to call it Burma or Myanmar, its new name under the military dictatorship which has governed the country for thirty years. The Nobel Peace prize has been awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi, the courageous leader of the country's democratic opposition: she has been under house arrest for twenty years. Her life and the lives of many in Burma are permanently in danger in what amounts to a low-level civil war; thousands have died, especially among the country's ethnic minorities. More than 150,000 Burmese have been driven from their homes, settling in refugee camps across the border in Thailand, with more arriving every day as the unrest worsens. They reach the camps with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

This passage from the prophet Isaiah is very old. In it, we read of a dream still unrealized, these thousands of years later: a time when the machinery of war will be turned to purposes of peace. There won't be refugees. People won't be driven out from their homes and killed. Three thousand years after this prophetic longing was first written down, it's still a dream.

Through Episcopal Relief and Development’s support of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium, people arriving at the refugee camps receive critical emergency aid. Because families arrive at the camps without possessions, a “New Arrivals Pack” has been created to meet immediate and basic needs. The pack contains blankets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, cooking pots and utensils and food containers. Episcopal Relief and Development is committed to supplying packs to 455 families, or 2,275 refugees.

Until peace is more than a dream, we all have work to do with those who are caught in the crossfire of war. To live in freedom is a great blessing; those of us who enjoy it must pray with love for those who do not. If we do that, God puts it into our hearts to incarnate our prayer in action.


+To learn more about ERD, to make a donation or to request a "Gifts for Life" catalogue, visit www.er-d.org or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129
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