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.
Into His Own
He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:11-13
Jesus had a mother and father. Brothers and sisters, too, scripture tells us. People who knew him growing up were surprised by what he became. The same might be true of the people who knew us when, you or me. I, for one, have no intention of going back to find out.
In the other gospels, we hear of several attempts to be who he was with the folks at home. For the most part, it didn't go well. Somehow, his biography got in the way with the people who were an early part of it. We know the feeling.
And so he spread his wings and left his home forever. Sometimes we have to close the book on one part of life before we can open the cover of another. The hymnic cadence of this austere first chapter of the Gospel of John does not offend with any such out-of-place familiarity. But neither does it explain: it locates Christ in the act of creation, separates him -- and us, it seems -- from the normal facts of human childbirth and pits us all against the forces of darkness in a battle of fearful proportions, in which victory is his. It does all this in mysterious language, more like a poem than anything else. We are stirred by its strange beauty, but few of us would say we were informed.
Of course, it was not additional information we needed, not about the important things in life. You probably already know what you need to know in order to welcome the transforming might of Christ into your life. What do you need to know? That life is hard, and that you are sometimes not up to its darker places. That reality comes in layers of meaning, much deeper and more complex than it appears at first. And that what we see around us is not all there is.
In the beginning was the Word, someone begins in the church service, and we all quiet down. We have been busy, too busy with many small things, peopling our recent weeks with babies and sheep, kings, virgins, angels -- our Christmas so far has had a cast of thousands. Now the camera backs up swiftly, and there is the big picture. It hangs in the darkness like a jewel.
Isaiah 61:10-62:3 * Galatians 3:23-25;4:4-7 * John 1:1-18 * Psalm 147 or 147:13-21
And here is the ERD meditation:
Three Years Ago
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. -- Psalm 147:3
Three years ago, we awoke on this side of the globe to the terrible news of a tsunami on the other side. The sheer hugeness of it kept us glued to the radio for days: the great wall of water rushing inland, much too fast to escape; the thousands of victims, the instant desolation of entire villages.
We remember some of the names of the faraway places: Andaman, Nicobar. Today, with the support of Episcopal Relief and Development, five schools have been rebuilt in those groups of islands off the coast of India; 2,600 children now attend these schools in those communities. Many of them live in the 3,000 houses whose construction ERD has underwritten.
Immediate tsunami relief has been long term recovery, for some time now. Permanent changes in people's lives which they can sustain themselves is a good use of the largest outpouring of donated support ERD has ever known, and so the focus now in that part of the world, three years after the tragedy, is on things that will last: education, micro-credit, support of local business, and ongoing psychosocial support of families and individuals.
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Most of the wounds are bandaged now, and the healing is well underway. Both take time, energy, and one more thing: the love of God expressed in service to the people of God who need it most.
To learn more about ERD or to make a year-end donation, visit www.er-d.org or telephone 1-800-334-7626.