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Dear Friend, The season of Lent provides a unique opportunity for us to embark on a journey toward an encounter with the risen Christ. As we turn toward a more intentional spiritual focus in our lives this season, we have a renewed opportunity to encounter Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves. In this eleventh edition of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Lenten Meditations, we invited a group of leaders from across the Anglican Communion to reflect on their favorite scriptures and other sources of spiritual wisdom as they consider their own work to strengthen communities and provide economic opportunities. We asked these leaders to focus particularly on the important roles of women running small businesses or earning incomes to support their families. This promotes self-sufficiency and encourages women to become active and vocal members of their communities. It is our hope that the 2014 Lenten Meditations will bring the risen Christ into our awareness each day and help us to prayerfully fulfill God’s call in our lives to heal a hurting world. Sincerely in Christ, Robert W. Radtke President Episcopal Relief & Development


Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of The Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria. Episcopal Relief & Development collaborates with Anglican churches and local organizations in nearly forty countries around the world.

We support programs in the following areas: • Alleviating Hunger and Improving Food Supply • Creating Economic Opportunities and Strengthening Communities • Promoting Health and Fighting Disease • Responding to Disasters and Rebuilding Communities Episcopal Relief & Development uses the MDGs as a framework to guide our efforts and help us measure our impact. All of our programs work to achieve one or more of the eight MDG goals: 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2. Achieve universal primary education for children 3. Promote gender equality and empower women 4. Reduce child mortality 5. Improve maternal health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7. Ensure environmental sustainability 8. Create a global partnership for development 2


Authors

Dámaris Albuquerque is Executive Director of the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD). Chad Brinkman is the Associate for Engagement at Episcopal Relief & Development. The Very Rev. Sam Candler is Dean of The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia. The Rev. Rachel Carnegie is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for International Development. The Rev. Laura Darling is the Managing Director of Confirm not Conform. In 2008, she worked as a Kiva Fellow with microfinance institutions in Kampala, Uganda. Sara Delaney is an International Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development. The Rt. Rev. Moses Deng Bol is Bishop of the Diocese of Wau, South Sudan. Robin Denney served as an Episcopal missionary in Liberia and South Sudan. Miguel Angel Escobar is a Program Director
for the Episcopal Church Foundation whose primary responsibilities include Vital Practices, Fellowship Partners Program, and other Leadership Resources programs. The Rev. Scott Gunn is Executive Director of Forward Movement. The Rev. Canon Rosa Lee Harden is Canon for Money and Meaning at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina, and also produces conferences that bring together the ideas of money and faith in traditional financial markets. 3


The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Sister Claire Joy is a member of the Community of the Holy Spirit and Chaplain to the staff of Episcopal Relief & Development. Sean McConnell is Director of Engagement for Episcopal Relief & Development. The Rev. Mary Moreno Richardson is the founder of The Guadalupe Art Program and a priest in the Diocese of California. Judith Morrison is a member of the Board of Directors of Episcopal Relief & Development and has worked in international development for almost twenty years. Abagail Nelson is Senior Vice President for Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development. The Rev. Deacon Judy Quick is Episcopal Relief & Development’s Diocesan Coordinator in the Diocese of Alabama. Robert W. Radtke is President of Episcopal Relief & Development. The Rev. Canon C. K. (Chuck) Robertson is Canon to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. The Rev. Ema Rosero-Nordalm is Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries in the Diocese of Massachusetts and deacon at St. Stephen’s, Boston. Faith Rowold is Communications Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development. The Rev. Connie Sánchez is Director of the Anglican Development Agency for the Diocese of Honduras. Brian Sellers-Petersen is Senior Advisor to the President of Episcopal Relief & Development. 4


Mary Stuart Smart was selected as a fellow to join Episcopal Relief & Development’s 2013 Ghana pilgrimage, and is a student at Sewanee: The University of the South. The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers is Canon for Missional Vitality in the Diocese of Long Island. Jenny Te Paa Daniel is a teacher, writer, speaker and public theologian in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Richelle Thompson is Managing Editor for Forward Movement. Jackie VanderBrug is a Senior Vice President at U.S. Trust and a leader in the movement to incorporate a gender lens in investments. José Zárate is the Coordinator for Indigenous Communities and Latin America and Caribbean Development Program for The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund of the Anglican Church of Canada. Helen Zhao is
Deputy Director of the Project Management Center for
The Amity Foundation, an independent Chinese voluntary organization.

Sources Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyrighted © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and used by permission. Psalm passages are from the Psalter in The Book of Common Prayer. 5


Cover photo courtesy of Episcopal Relief & Development and Harvey Wang for Episcopal Relief & Development. Š2014 Episcopal Relief & Development All rights reserved. 6


Ash Wednesday, March 5 We have not loved you with our

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whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. —The Book of Common Prayer, p. 267

Loving our neighbor can look like ensuring her ability to feed herself and her family. Jesus fed people, and that feeding is still central to how we remember and become his body in the world today. Poor women—in his day and our own—often depend on male relatives for their livelihoods. Microfinance, growing food more effectively and developing agricultural and market cooperatives are important tools that help the poor increase their ability to feed themselves and their children. That kind of development also brings dignity, as women find agency and become more effective partners in decision-making. Agency is an image of God’s presence and action in the world. Lent invites us to reflect on loving God and neighbor and to examine our own actions and inactions. Prayer, study, fasting and giving alms are traditional ways to observe this season—and all are avenues to loving more fully—with heart, mind, strength and substance. How will I live and love differently this Lent? How will I become God’s agent and help others to do the same? Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. —Psalm 51:11 —The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

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Thursday, March 6 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at

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my word. —Isaiah 66:2

Over and over in the Bible, God calls to the outsiders, those whom the community or the world has marginalized: Sarah, the barren elder woman, has a child, Isaac; Ruth, the foreigner, mothers the Davidic dynasty; Moses, the adopted Egyptian, encounters God while fleeing as a murderer and returns a guide and a leader. Christ Jesus walks with prostitutes, parties with tax collectors, and heals the blind and the lame. For those who have been consistently ignored, marginalized and even forgotten by the world, the idea that God might choose the lowly to be heard, to be noticed, to be preferred is something that bursts into reality like a gift, a possibility for transformation. God does not choose the poor in order for them to remain quiescent in their secret preferred state. Scripture instead shows us that the Samaritans, the prostitutes, the exiled are called to act out God’s love in faith in the world, and in so doing, become the leaders we all wait for. In our programs at Episcopal Relief & Development, we seek to emulate our Lord by listening to those who are often marginalized in places around the world, and to honor the gifts they bring to the table, to build their own savings banks, to carry their own mosquito nets, to ensure that their own children are nurtured and fed. Some call this asset-based community development. We call it discipleship. —Abagail Nelson 8


Friday, March 7 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap

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sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your

mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. —2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Norah chuckles as she watches the fingerlings jumping in her pond. Smiling broadly, she gives a large plastic bag full of young fish to her neighbor. “Now, go and grow fish!” she says. Norah started with a tiny pond of fish, but her work flourished, and now she has created three large ponds below her house. Her fish business, in the hills of Kenya, has taken off. “We live far from the sea, but we have learned to enjoy fish,” she says. Norah is a born innovator. She absorbs new ideas and tries them out on her small farm. Her three dairy cows now fuel a homemade bio-gas plant, which generates enough for her cooking. And her fruit trees grow abundantly on the waste. Norah has done so well with her little farm. She loves sharing all that she has learned with her neighbors, who come regularly to marvel and learn from her innovations. “I give them fifty little fish, and their lives can change,” she reflects cheerfully. —Rachel Carnegie

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Saturday, March 8 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another

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to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Indigenous women face injustice from lack of basic services, education, health care and general opportunities for advancement. In 1998, a group of indigenous women from the Six Nations of the Grand River community in Canada invited The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund of the Anglican Church of Canada (PWRDF) to learn about their business ideas, including handcrafts and First Nations art designs and clothes. They expressed their challenges to initiate new businesses, because traditional banks felt they were too high of a risk. PWRDF partnered with the Two Rivers Community Development Centre to create a microfinance initiative aimed at providing funds for indigenous women to start small businesses. This initiative contributed to the creation of ten new enterprises and eighteen new jobs. This success is attributed to women who repaid their loans, allowing new ones to benefit. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil…These entrepreneurs walk stronger side by side by ensuring that the revolving funds are available for others. How might we support more indigenous women to reach their goals of self-sufficiency? — José Zárate 10


Sunday, March 9 We know that all things work together for good for those

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who love God, who are called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28

My favorite Bible passage has always been Micah 6:8. It is my go-to reading especially when times are tough, and I am up against those with both the propensity and the capacity for abusing power. These are the times when I find myself praying out loud—and at times in plaintive desperation for answers: what, dear God, am I to do? Simple, so simple, is the response. “To do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). Unerringly Micah provides this beautifully unambiguous prescriptive response to my “what” question. This is what you are to do. Like many Christians, I tend not to ask “why” questions as they seem almost disrespectful. My faith, our shared faith, is of course always the reason why. Like many Christians, however, I tend also to stumble at times and in those moments of doubt and uncertainty, yearn for reassurance that why I do what I do matters to God. Lent is that most precious of times for asking ourselves these very important self-reflective questions. It is the time for recognizing what causes us to stumble, what causes us to doubt, and what it is we need reassuring about. And so it is that as I consider anew the very short verse from Romans, I find myself powerfully reassured that the answer to the why I do what I do question has been so simply and yet so lovingly crafted. 11


We have indeed been called out through our baptism to serve God’s purpose. Even in the toughest of times, we can be assured that in so doing, ultimately all things will work together for good because of our faith-filled love of God. Loving God, in this precious Lenten time enables us to ponder anew both the “what” and the “why” questions. Guide us, assure us, strengthen us and inspire us as we undertake to always be your faithful missional servants. Amen. —Jenny Te Paa Daniel

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Monday, March 10 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,

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clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. —Colossians 3:12

In a Lenten devotional book focused on women’s empowerment, it’s challenging to look at the third chapter of Colossians. Among other things, the passage tells wives to be subject to their husbands and instructs slaves to obey their masters. Passages such as these require careful study, but, mostly, they invite a thoughtful reading of the wider context of the gospel message. Jesus reminds us, his followers, again and again that to find our lives, we have to lose them. We have to take up our cross and follow him. We are all servants. The underlying theme—that which undergirds the gospels—is that we must follow Jesus in all we do, that the cross alone is our focus. Whatever earthly relationships we have are governed by God’s more profound desire that we love God and our neighbors. In our various ministries, outside and inside the church, we are called to proclaim and to practice God’s love for every person. That task both invites each of us to be a servant and empowers us all. —Scott Gunn

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Tuesday, March 11 All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

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—Acts 2:44-45

One way we might live as followers of Jesus is to look to those who were closest to him: How did the earliest Christians live? How did those who knew Jesus live as his followers? Acts tells us they sold all they had, held their money in common and helped those in need. Whatever its appeal, this model has not prevailed. Yet I think it’s time to engage again the question of what we own and what we hold in common. As I grapple with this, the refrain that echoes in my mind is not that we should hold all in common, but that we do hold all things in common. Wendell Berry famously says: “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” Our neighbors downstream depend on us to care for our part of the river, so the water is clean for them, too. Every person reading this is someone’s upstream neighbor. We care for the river in common. It belongs to all of us. In fact, it all belongs to all of us. Property deeds and car titles try to convince us differently, but they cannot hide the truth that we all must care for one another, and those with resources have a particular responsibility for those in need. —Rosa Lee Harden

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Wednesday, March 12 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the

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world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. —1 John 3:17-18

Nicaragua, like other countries, relies heavily on artisanal, smallscale agriculture for its subsistence. This means that farmers depend on the rain or lack of it to produce. CEPAD, the Council of Protestant Churches in Nicaragua, has been working since 1972 in several rural communities of the country, teaching techniques in soil and water conservation, association and diversification of crops, organic practices and, recently, water harvest. The techniques are applied by farmers to prevent losses by drought or flooding and for better nutrition for their families. Episcopal Relief & Development is a partner of these efforts. Together we are finding ways to improve the lives of 168 families in two regions of the country. It may not seem like much, but to those families, this effort means healthier futures for their children, because they will be able to eat healthier food from their land and will be able to sell the extra produce at local markets. During this time of Lent, let us reflect on how mutual support and encouragement can go a long way. —Dámaris Albuquerque

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Thursday, March 13 Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and

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give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. —Deuteronomy 15:9-10

There’s a phenomenon described by social psychologists as the “bystander effect.” Basically, the more people around a situation that requires action, the less likely anyone is to actually respond. Research continues into the mechanisms for why this happens, but a lot of it seems to come down to thinking “someone else will do it.” Someone else will give the guy on the corner something to eat. Someone else will organize the rummage sale for Rally Day. Someone else will visit the older lady who usually sits in the second pew. But scripture calls us out, asking: Why are you waiting to show mercy? Why are you waiting to lend a hand? Do we think help will come from some external source? Do we forget that we are God’s hands on earth, called to love our neighbors as ourselves? The farmers in Binaba, Ghana, know this. When they pool their labor so that no one has to weed their whole plot by themselves, they give freely of their time and effort, knowing that help will come their way when needed and that shared skills and knowledge help everyone’s crops flourish. —Faith Rowold

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Friday, March 14 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one

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another with whatever gift each of you has received. —1 Peter 4:10

When mired in extreme poverty, physical or emotional, it is understandable to think that one has nothing to give. Yet God’s generous grace bestows on each of us some gift, some talent. With prayer and guidance, we can discern these gifts. To discover the unique gifts of a local community, Episcopal Relief & Development uses the asset-based community development model in places such as Ghana, where they partner with the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization (ADDRO). With conversation, relationships and time, the gifts become evident. Alice’s uncertain future in Yelwoko, Ghana, became clear. ADDRO funds the Anglican Women’s Development Group, which trained Alice as a seamstress. Alice discovered a talent for sewing and a gift for teaching. She now teaches other girls (ages twelve through eighteen) in the community in a three-year seamstress program and gives shorter batik and beading courses. The girls sell their creations in the market, providing income so they can eat two meals a day and send their children to school. Through God’s grace and in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, these young women serve one another and their community with their unique gifts. What gift has God given you? How do you serve others with this gift? —Judy Quick 17


Saturday, March 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

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—2 Timothy 2:15

After three years of study and commitment, the young women gathered for graduation and stood behind their new sewing machines. I expected to see all smiles and happy faces. The celebration was in a village outside of Bolgatanga, Ghana, and all the families, teachers, children and elders were there. And these young women, each dressed in dresses made from batik cloth they had dyed themselves and designs they had created, that they had sewn themselves as they acted as models and forms for one another—on what must have been the proudest day of their lives, not one of the nine looked happy. Their faces carried in them the look that I imagine Jesus had when he surveyed the hungry five thousand, or that Gandhi had as he encountered the crowds joining the Salt March. Their faces were serious, and resolute, and faithful, and carried a great deal of responsibility, all at once. Their faces carried messages to those gathered: messages of gratitude, of assurance that they would use their hard-earned knowledge for the betterment of those around them: teachers, families, communities. In their faces they showed that they were ready to go out and make the world a better place. And somehow, I believe they will. —Sean McConnell

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Sunday, March 16 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths,

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but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. —Ephesians 4:29

What we say matters. Indeed, it matters a great deal. The childhood adage about sticks and stones—“but words will never hurt me”—is courageous but often untrue. After all, words can and do hurt. Our words can steal a person’s joy and murder their spirit, destroy their reputation and lead them to resentment or envy. In the same way, words can and do make us feel valued. “I love you.” “I forgive you.” “I am so very proud of you.” These are building blocks for helping construct a healthy and happy life. The fact is that great power is unleashed, for good or for bad, for building up or for tearing down, every time we choose to open our mouths. It is little wonder, then, that James urges followers of Christ to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). How utterly countercultural this is today, as we tune in to just about any talk show program and hear talking heads carp at each other with no one truly listening to the other. On the cross, when he understandably could have cursed his tormenters or insulted his fellow prisoners, Jesus instead chose to speak words of forgiveness on behalf of those who knew not what they did and to speak words of comfort to a criminal who had little hope. May I choose this day to offer forgiveness and hope and value to those I encounter—through my words as well as my deeds. May my words build up, always. —C. K. (Chuck) Robertson 19


Monday, March 17 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

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—Matthew 25:40

Shortly before his death in 2005, John Garang, who led the fight for our freedom in South Sudan, said, “Women in the Sudan are the marginalized of the marginalized.” So much has changed since he said this, but shamefully this statement is still true, especially in the Bahr El Ghazel region where I come from in South Sudan. Official government statistics say 98 percent of women in the region cannot read or write. Although a few girls go to school, most will not complete their education. They will likely be married off for a dowry. The dowry may be paid in stolen cows, a practice fueling the current tribal conflict in South Sudan. Yet we rely on these same women to provide food, manage our homes and raise our children. They are such a central part of our society, and, I think, these women are the key to unlocking a better future for South Sudan. We should care more for those who seem to be the least important in our society. We should empower them to take their proper place in our shared future. What if we lifted up those who are the very least in our society, showed them we cared and empowered them to make the future their own as equals in their own country? What if we included you? —Moses Deng Bol

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Tuesday, March 18 John answered, “No one can receive anything

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except what has been given from heaven.” —John 3:27

The best kind of giving comes from the belief that our most prized gifts must be shared. Our gifts are heavenly and multiply in the sharing. Through my international work, I have seen countless times that the gifts I value the most are ones I share and that others share with me. Several years ago I had the privilege of seeing a young deaf man in Paraguay teach a blind and deaf baby in an orphanage her first word in sign language. The gift the young man gave to this baby girl has multiplied many times over. The girl has been able to share with others the meaning of the word that she learned: love. And for me, witnessing this remarkable exchange has been a life-transforming gift given to me by a baby. She allowed me to see how capable she is of learning and loving. I continue to honor this gift by sharing the story of her triumph with others. The incredible power of humanity is that we are all capable of giving. God has given us all talents—our gifts from heaven—that are in abundance and can be found in the most isolated and silent places in our world. How will you share your divine gifts with others today? —Judith Morrison

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Wednesday, March 19 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the

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interests of others. —Philippians 2:3-4

Nandong Village is located in a minority area in southwest China. In the past, villagers were splintered, working their own land or with small businesses. In March 2012, the Women’s Development Association of Nandong was established, and Xiao Ping was elected chair. The village committee provided 1.3 hectares of paddy fields to support the association. Under the leadership of Xiao Ping, women learn to read, study planting and husbandry, participate in traditional dance workshops and take study tours. The members also actively work the association’s farmland. Last year, they earned 29,800 yuan from the harvest. The association used this money to support the elderly and children from poor families. They also helped disabled and poor women grow rice. Their work receives consistent high praise from the villagers as the area becomes cleaner, the women become more confident and the cohesion of the community grows. Through the women’s association, we realize the power of community. Through bringing people together and building capacity, we can fulfill our dreams and realize God’s plan for us. —Helen Zhao

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Thursday, March 20 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and

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good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. — Hebrews 10:24-25

The Nuu-chah-nulth nation has about 10,000 members living in fourteen communities in British Columbia. Less than 2 percent are fluent in the language, and most of those fluent speakers are over sixty-five years old. Since 2002, the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) has partnered with The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund of the Anglican Church of Canada (PWRDF) to implement a Nuu-chah-nulth Language and Culture Program. The program provides funding to projects aimed at the preservation and promotion of their language and culture. The methods of preserving and teaching this ancient language are very modern. NEDC provides funding for groups that use Facebook to connect speakers of Nuu-chah-nulth, YouTube to share videos of elders speaking the language, DVDs featuring pronunciation guides, and more. Nuu-chah-nulth was purely an oral language until recently, so most fluent speakers aren’t literate in it. NEDC has been successful at working with their communities to secure language and culture for the current and future generations. “Provoke one another to love and good deeds…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Let us reflect during this Lenten season on how we can continue working with indigenous communities in their goal of self-determination. —José Zárate 23


Friday, March 21 Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.

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—Hosea 6:3

Over the years, I have been privileged to meet Episcopal Relief & Development partners around the world who are constantly pressing to make lives better—family, community and self. In pressing to make things better, they make God’s love tangible: mosquito nets. Microloans. Seeds and tools. Maternal and child health programs. Clean water. The idea that God will come to us like rain showers makes me think of water: Moses’ trip down the Nile in a basket. Parting the Red Sea. Jesus’ baptism by John. The Sea of Galilee. Water turned into wine. Jesus walking on water. Our Baptismal Covenant. I also think about catchment tanks and rain barrels that catch rainwater and provide access to fresh, clean water safe for drinking. Episcopal Relief & Development partners and community members build and maintain these tanks and bring hope to family, friends and whole communities. If you visit www.episcopalrelief.org and type “Water Catchment Kenya” into the search box, you will find a wonderful story about “spring rains that water the earth.” Press on! —Brian Sellers-Petersen

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Saturday, March 22 Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good

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pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no

moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Luke 12:32-34

Marie and Jean surveyed their new banana grove, bunches of ripening fruit all around. Their neighbors were impressed too— and eager to learn the new cultivation techniques. Here was hope—reclaiming their land in Eastern Congo, ravaged by years of conflict—and sustainable hope too, as the bananas would feed all their children, with enough left over to sell. Marie and Jean are part of a movement in the Anglican Church of Congo called Ensemble Nous Pouvons (Together We Can). This approach involves local churches and their communities thinking about the gifts God has given them in their skills, in their environment, in their “togetherness.” It asks them to consider where their true treasure lies—and how that treasure can bring hope to others. Supported by Episcopal Relief & Development, church leaders and community members visit other communities to learn and be inspired, and then, helped by a facilitator, they decide their own priorities. Some communities identify health, others education. In Marie and Jean’s community, the priority was growing enough food to feed themselves and to sell. Discovering what it means to be “good news” to each other, they are also creating a wealth of relationships and trust. Together this local church and community are building the kingdom, here and now. —Rachel Carnegie

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Sunday, March 23 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap;

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for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. —Luke 6:38

A good measure…not a half-hearted consolation prize, not a guilttrip donation, wrung out of you by someone you need to impress, but a heaping, sifted, tamped-down measure. This is the way Luke describes the gift we must give, and the gift that will be given back. In other places, the Bible says you will receive ten times what you give. My experience mostly has been somewhere between those estimates. And except in the cosmic sense, the giving is not usually reciprocal. The point is that giving, like forgiving, is one of those amazing mysteries of God’s grace. Giving produces in and of itself a mental attitude of gratitude. Whatever we get in return, we actually appreciate more. —Sister Claire Joy

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Monday, March 24 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every

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way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. —Ephesians 4:15-16

I know, I know. Anybody of any spiritual interest at all seems to be saying, “I am spiritual but not religious.” We know what they mean, that they enjoy a purer sense of the Holy when they are not trapped and frustrated by the mechanics and structure and sometimes sheer boredom of institutional life. But good spirituality is always about the body as well as the soul. Our bodies really do carry soul. And bodies need bones and muscles and ligaments; our bodies need mechanics. From the greatest to the least. So it is that Ephesians 4:16 indicates that the Body of Christ is joined and knit together by every ligament doing its part. The root meaning of the word “religion” includes the root meaning of ligament, “to tie back together.” Good religion, then, is about tying and holding together the critical pieces of our spirituality. Pray for the church today. Pray for the church as a living body, which really does need structures and ligaments, from the greatest to the least. That body really does carry the living Christ, our Soul. —Sam Candler

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Tuesday, March 25 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice

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glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 15:5-6

Please let me tell you about signs of encouragement in South Sudan. In our Wau Diocese, the Mothers Union operates literacy and financial education programs that empower women with these two key skills needed to advance in life. We get help from the United Kingdom’s Mothers Union to do this. Please let me tell you about Naomi Bakri, a South Sudanese mother living in France. She speaks in various churches and raises money for women’s adult education. I praise God and give thanks to Naomi for her example and great kindness. Please let me tell you about Val Wilson and a group of women from Pool Deanery in the United Kingdom. Together they have raised funds so that women may attend St. John’s Theological College in our own cathedral compound. In Wau Diocese, we want to build a secondary school for girls. It is a dream of mine to make a bold statement that the education of girls and women is vital and necessary. We are working with the government to advocate and remind them of their pledge to open 25 percent of government employment to women at all levels.

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Let me ask you, what if we could achieve this? What if we could make a change that lasted forever? What if we did this together and enriched each other in doing it? So that together, we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. —Moses Deng Bol

For all Christians in their vocation Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. —The Book of Common Prayer, p. 256

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Wednesday, March 26 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or

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gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. —Leviticus 19:9-10

I like efficiency. It’s a congenital legacy reinforced by my Dutch Calvinist heritage and enshrined through tales of my grandfather’s work as a tool and die maker. His precision and economy of movement compounded as he honed hundreds of mechanisms in his shop. Predisposition to efficiency fits well into my professional world of investing and finance. So I am stopped short by the dramatic injunction to leave some of the fields unharvested. It clashes with the financial drive for focus, efficiency and maximization. Reduce transaction costs and risk; drive profits. Every bit of capital must be gleaned, right? When we consider investments from a sustainability or values perspective, we may answer differently. We see that what we don’t “price”—like the ability for all to prosper, breathe clean air and have access to capital—is, in the long term, valuable. We begin to see opportunities to invest our money, looking not to reap to the edges, but standing in solidarity with others. To consider all of our relationships, the full spectrum of God’s economy. That’s the economy where nothing is wasted but not all is efficient. —Jackie VanderBrug

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Thursday, March 27 Whatever your task, put yourselves into it,

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as done for the Lord and not for your masters. —Colossians 3:23

I was definitely not taking typing. Nor would I major in English, become a teacher or nurse or learn how to cook. As a teen, I was determined not do things I thought others expected of a woman. I didn’t want my gender to presuppose my actions or profession. I was so caught up in my own ego, in a self-righteousness masked as feminism, that I almost missed the vocation God had laid out for me. Somehow, despite my stubbornness, my father convinced me to take a semester of typing. And my English teacher wrote notes in the corner of my papers, suggesting I continue to write, even while I pursued my plans for medical school. When you write, when you tell stories, she said, you come alive. During college, I began to understand that the choices I make for my life shouldn’t be for or against what others expect—or how I’m rebelling against those expectations. Gender rules and stereotypes can be an insidious master. Instead I needed to discern the gifts given to me by God—and do my best to honor them. So I write, I tell stories, and I help others tell stories. And, as my dad often reminds me, I’m thankful every day for that typing class. —Richelle Thompson

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Friday, March 28 Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.

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Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. —Proverbs 31:8-9

When I read this passage, I am reminded of a carpenter—not the one you are probably thinking of, but John Awozo, a man whose life and work reflects Christ. Otherwise known as the headmaster, John runs a vocational carpentry school for men with disabilities in a small village in northern Ghana. In many countries, including Ghana, it is customary for families to hide away the disabled because they are seen as social stigmas. Many times, they are deemed “cursed” and are hidden away for a lifetime. Deaf himself, John goes from hut to hut recruiting and freeing the disabled from lives of solitude and shame. With the support of Episcopal Relief & Development and its partner, the Anglican Diocesan Development & Relief Organization, John is not only able to house and feed his students but train them in carpentry skills as well. John teaches them a trade while teaching them how to lead meaningful lives. Such an education opens otherwise closed doors, allowing his students the opportunity to create their own businesses and livelihoods. John Awazo speaks out, passionately and eloquently, for the disabled. He is a sign of God’s unconditional love and God’s call that we be Christ’s hands, feet, and yes, voice, for those in need. —Mary Stuart Smart

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Saturday, March 29 O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every

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morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. —Isaiah 33:2

Our beloved and excellent Godly Play teacher received deportation papers. Married to a U.S. citizen, she had hoped she would not have to leave her family and her job. Assisting her mother-in-law in a successful childcare business, she had grown to love her work with children and dreamed of studying child development. But now she would have to leave the U.S. and be sent to the dangerous city of Juarez, Mexico, to await her trial. Hundreds of women have been murdered there in the past few years, and the cases remain unsolved. Her mother-in-law was heartbroken and would now be responsible for her two granddaughters and have one less employee. The congregation, especially the children, was saddened and worried that she may never return. On her last Sunday with us, we wanted to make the best of the situation, even though our hearts were breaking. She was given flowers, cards and presents and then asked to share a few words. With incredible conviction, she comforted us and shared her infinite faith in God. She assured us that God had a plan, and that no matter the outcome, she would be fine. She was fine. After nine months, she miraculously returned with papers to be reunited with her family and her church; and the family childcare business is thriving. —Mary Moreno Richardson

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Sunday, March 30 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will

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know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:34-35

Jesus, who came to live among us to reveal to the world the infinite love of God, invites us to love each other as he has shown us. To love as Jesus loves us is to hand over our life itself for a beloved friend. To love as Jesus loves us is to accept each other just as we are, with our differences and our different ways of being and not being. To love as Jesus loves us is to serve with love and humility all persons who are around us, always looking out for their wellbeing, for justice, peace and harmony in whatever we undertake to enrich our lives and to carry out our dreams of a better way of living every day. To love as Jesus loves us is the way we commit ourselves to be agents of change in our communities, struggling together in solidarity and for the common good. The love that Jesus came to show us should not only be our guide for all endeavors leading to our benefit but also should shine with its proper light. As Jesus’ words express it, the whole world will know that we are his disciples when they witness the love that we have for one another and that is revealed in the works that strengthen us as a community. —Ema Rosero-Nordalm

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Monday, March 31 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye,

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but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. —Matthew 7:3-5

When the women clergy of our diocese met with our new bishop, I asked for those who were not being paid the diocesan minimum to stand up. I can’t remember now how many stood, but I think our bishop was shocked to see it. I wasn’t. I am no longer a parochial priest, so I have no personal stake in this. But I believe it is very important for us to pay attention to our messages of economic empowerment right at hand. When we expect our church staff to work more hours for less money, I’ve seen the attitude trickle down to local businesses, service providers, program recipients and even volunteers. Economic empowerment can begin with paying our own employees what we promised we would pay when we hired them, and with paying those who provide our services a full and decent wage. —Laura Darling

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Tuesday, April 1 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money

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to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. —Matthew 19:20-22

I want to know, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.” Yes, I understand, he went away grieving. But did he get through the grieving process? Did he come to understand that his things were not himself? Did he finally do what Jesus asked, find out where Jesus had gone and set off to follow him for that next part of the journey? For it is a journey. Very few of us get it right away. It takes some time…time to think, to grieve, to be alone with God, to get over ourselves. This story doesn’t end here. That gives me hope. —Sister Claire Joy

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Wednesday, April 2 Those who are generous are blessed,

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for they share their bread with the poor. —Proverbs 22:9

This statement from Proverbs is a precept of love: we must cultivate love for one another. We affirm that the blessing received by those who carry out this word is doubled. First, we see how the lives of our brothers and sisters who live in need are transformed, and secondly, when we have a generous heart, our God blesses us more abundantly in whatever we undertake and in a way that we cannot even imagine. One of my blessed experiences in life has been to work in my country, Honduras, with microfinance programs sponsored by Episcopal Relief & Development. Through these programs, the participants not only have the opportunity to be helped financially but also supported spiritually, since it is by means of these programs that we have shared the Good News of salvation. We witness how lives are being changed in one way or another, and we hear the testimonials of women as they express their gratitude because they felt useful and empowered to be able to contribute to the economy in their homes. The happiness reflected in their faces is the best gift that can be received for our work. Throughout the length and breadth of this world where the poor and marginalized are in great numbers, there is significant need of a friendly, generous hand to help these brothers and sisters to be builders of a better world—not only for themselves but also for their families, so they may have the opportunity to live with decency and with dignity. —Connie Sánchez 37


Thursday, April 3 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

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—Galatians 6:2

During the 2013 Episcopal Relief & Development pilgrimage to Ghana, I was particularly blessed to visit one of the small farms in the northern part of the country. We walked a good distance through the beautiful millet until we saw vibrant colors among the stalks. They were the clothes of workers, bending over and hoeing. Men and women together, about twenty in all, formed a straight line and were methodically tending to the entire field. A few minutes later, with a great cheer, they were finished. We learned that the tenders to the field were all neighbors to the actual land-owning farmer, who was but one of the persons hoeing. The rest of the people were his neighbors, all pitching in on the day his field needed hoeing. The next day, the same group would take on another field, and then another, until the community work was done. What I saw were neighbors helping neighbors, without regard for individual competitive victory. I believe they were fulfilling the instruction of Galatians to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Wow. When we love our neighbors as ourselves, the whole world seems filled with vibrancy and cheer. —Sam Candler

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Friday, April 4 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and all who dwell therein.

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—Psalm 24:1

Whenever I am leading a training with subsistence farmers, I always begin with a Bible study of this passage. Remembering that we are called to be caretakers and not owners of creation helps us to remember our right place before God. I ask the question, “What about the place you throw your garbage? Does that belong to God?” Realizing that all things belong to God helps us to hold our possessions more lightly, to share resources more freely and to make the effort required to be better stewards of what we have been given. This lesson is just as important in the developed world as it is for impoverished rural farmers. We who have been given access to more resources are called not to hoard what we have. What we have belongs to God, and we are called to share it so that others will have the opportunity to be stewards of God’s resources as well. I have seen a light come on in the eyes of someone who considered themselves lowly, nothing but a subsistence farmer, but then through study of scripture discovered that farmers are called to the honorable and noble task of being caretakers of creation, stewards of God’s riches. What time, talent and resources have you been given? How can you be a good steward today? How can you share what you have to empower others? —Robin Denney

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Saturday, April 5 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.

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—Proverbs 22:9

In the dead of night, while their families slept peacefully and obliviously, nine women in Tennessee made pound cakes. They wanted to give back to the community, to offer gifts of kindness, to help others without any expectation of return. They eavesdropped in grocery stores, listening for people who needed help, noting when someone had to put back bread or milk for lack of money. And they filled the cart and paid the tab. They drove through neighborhoods on hot nights and wrote down the addresses that had fans in the windows—a sign of no air conditioning. They left gifts on the porch, including a homemade pound cake and a note that said, “Somebody loves you.” If a utility bill needed paid, they sent money to the company, no questions asked. Since the 1970s, this band of women has operated with stunning generosity—and stealth. Their good works became public a year ago, with a story that has been shared across the Internet. When they first began, they wondered how they could fund their mission. They gave up sending shirts to dry cleaners and started clipping coupons, so they could splurge on behalf of others. Oh, they wished early on, if they only had a million dollars. More than thirty-five years later, the nine women have contributed nearly $900,000 to spread happiness and compassion in their communities and beyond. Those who are generous are blessed, indeed. —Richelle Thompson 40


Sunday, April 6 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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—Matthew 6:21

When I was a kid, my mom and I moved into a small apartment. The complex had a pool and a boatload of kids. We were poor, but I had no idea. I was happy. My mom had only a high school education, and though she worked multiple jobs, money was scarce. A few months after moving, she got a call from a friend who wanted to know if she could stop by with a housewarming gift. My mother’s friend delivered six boxes of food. My mom began to cry. Years later, I learned we only had 29¢ in the bank that night. We had a partial loaf of bread and a mostly empty jar of peanut butter to last two weeks. Mom hadn’t told anyone, only prayed that God would provide. It was a pivotal time in my mother’s faith, not only in Jesus, but in herself as well. It was a small investment, supplying food to our family, but it became the catalytic action that changed our lives forever. Feeling secure that our needs were met gave my mother confidence—a resource she used to go back and earn multiple degrees. She then opened a school to help dropouts complete their education and go on to higher learning. In this same way, Episcopal Relief & Development helps communities meet their own needs, building confidence and creating opportunities to move from scarcity to security. How can we be that kind of catalyst for another? —Chad Brinkman 41


Monday, April 7 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but

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when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” —Matthew 13:31-32

I like honey almost as much as mustard. Bees and honey are one of my favorite Episcopal Relief & Development projects. I am always asking our partners if I can see their beekeeping projects. I am fascinated by bees, beekeeping, pollination, honey. As a young boy, I loved tramping out into the fields with my Nebraska farmer grandpa to check out his bees, making sure they were healthy, thriving and helping his crops grow in abundance. For small-scale farmers who are unable to keep livestock, bees can change their lives. I remember well a women’s group in Kenya proudly showing me their bees and beehives, giving me a tutorial on basic beekeeping, insisting that I sample their honey, explaining how they get their bottles of honey to market and their plans for building their business for the benefit of their whole village. They didn’t have to tell me, but it was abundantly clear that bees were bringing hope and transformation to their lives and community. The kingdom of heaven is like a beehive! —Brian Sellers-Petersen

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Tuesday, April 8 The twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away….”

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But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish— unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For

there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. —Luke 9:12-17

I’m in Jane’s single-room house that is divided by a hanging blanket into a place for sitting and sleeping. Without light, it is difficult to make out the dishes and an open fire area in the corner that is her kitchen. She lives in this dusty space with her two children and three siblings, and she pays school fees for all of them. Jane is exceptionally fortunate. The local community in her informal settlement selected her as a girl at risk, and she was accepted into a nine-month training program for hairdressing. Jane, like millions of women around the world, beams with entrepreneurial dreams. While I’m overwhelmed with the need, the systemic barriers and numbers at risk, she’s looking for a loan to buy a blow dryer. Through her, I try to listen to Jesus, who does not panic at the crowds, entreats God’s involvement and creates abundance with what is at hand. The story and his words, “make them sit down in groups,” work on my paralysis and push me to ask what I see. Do I see need and despair or assets and opportunities? If I see through Jesus’ eyes, what is possible? —Jackie VanderBrug 43


Wednesday, April 9 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped; Therefore my heart dances for joy,

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and in my song will I praise him. —Psalm 28:8-9

Isn’t it reassuring that we do not travel alone on our life’s journey? When we think we cannot take one more step or make one more decision or help one more person, we draw on the strength of our Lord to continue. The Haitian people find strength in the Lord and give thanks. Through extreme poverty, earthquakes, floods, suffering and misfortune, the indomitable Haitian spirit shines through. The love of Jesus sustains and inspires them as they live from day to day. Even the local transportation in Port-au-Prince, the Tap Tap, displays scripture and inscriptions as a moving reminder to all: “Jesus Loves You” “Merci, Jesus.” The love of Christ is ever present as Episcopal Relief & Development partners with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, rebuilding homes and lives after disasters, providing cash for work for individuals and microloans for small businesses and supporting the Bishop Tharp Institute, a community college, that helps prepare young people for the world of business and technology. With education and enterprise, little by little, communities get stronger, with God’s help. How is the Lord strengthening you today? How will you give thanks? —Judy Quick

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Thursday, April 10 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,

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the world and all who dwell therein. For it is he who founded it upon the seas, and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep. —Psalm 24:1-2

Sharing is at the heart of practicing Christian love for one another. My parents might raise an eyebrow at this, given that as a kid I was notoriously bad at sharing with my sisters. Having learned from my own bad example, I appreciate that sharing teaches us to rely on one another and build each other up for the well-being of the whole. As Christians, we can share even more freely because we are God’s, and everything we have is from God. Sharing our time, talents and treasure builds up the Body of Christ. I see examples of this in the self-help groups Episcopal Relief & Development supports in Guatemala, where women come together to encourage each other in saving money, learning skills and improving their lives through small business endeavors. I see this in the community buffalo banks in Myanmar, where community members “borrow” a pair of animals to work their land, and then give back two of the buffaloes’ offspring so their neighbors can have a chance to benefit. I see inspiring examples of giving from church members here in the United States, who see this work as a way to seek and serve Christ in others, near and far away. May we all seek to share of ourselves with our sisters and brothers worldwide, and so continue to bring forth the kingdom of God. —Faith Rowold

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Friday, April 11 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

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—Galatians 3:28

When I was a boy, I loved to spend summers at Camp Mitchell, the camp and retreat center for the Diocese of Arkansas. That beautiful spot, set on bluffs overlooking the Arkansas River, is where many young Arkansans found their earliest formation as disciples, and still do. When I entered my teens, I was surprised to hear that a new priest was coming to take charge of the camp. My surprise was because the priest was a woman. I immediately took it to heart that I would no longer be happy at Camp Mitchell. The priests I had known at camp were a part of the place for me. So, I went to Father Joe Tucker. He, for me, was what a priest looked like and sounded like. He always seemed old, and he always smiled. “Father Joe, how can a woman be a priest?” “Sean,” he spoke through that smile, “when Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross, he spread them out for the entire world—for every man, and woman, and child. So, it is not only men who can share Christ’s embrace with the world. All people can.” In that moment, my worldview changed deeply, dramatically. And when I met the Rev. Peggy Bosmyer, the first woman ordained south of the Mason-Dixon line, I was given a vision of Christ that expanded well beyond the horizons of that mountaintop vista. Today, don’t only seek Christ in all persons; be Christ for all persons. —Sean McConnell 46


Saturday, April 12 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first

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sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” —Luke 14:28-30

While working as a fellow for a nonprofit microfinance organization, I went to Uganda to provide due diligence on some of its field partners in Kampala. The first microfinance institution (MFI) I visited was in complete disarray. Some borrowers had not received loans, because the money for the loans had been used to pay back loans from former borrowers who had lost jobs that had been guaranteed by the MFI. It was a mess. And it wasn’t the borrowers’ fault. As I interviewed people and prepared an analysis of the situation, it was clear the problem lay with a well-intentioned founder who wanted to build a tower but who had never thought through the full plan. Sadly, many people she set out to help ended up worse off because her dream of providing economic empowerment didn’t have a plan behind it. It was hard, but I learned that good intentions are not enough. —Laura Darling

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Palm Sunday, April 13 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

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—Romans 8:28

It is a verse that can bring comfort, but only if we do not see it as a simplistic formula—“say the magic words, rub the lamp and the genie will give you three wishes.” No, this verse is not about easy, feel-good answers when we hit rough times. Rather it is about divine perspective. It is so seductive when someone says, “Pray and God will make it all okay.” The fact is that there are times when we might well repeat the words in Mark’s Gospel of a desperate parent who cries out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (9:24). Faith can be a stretch in those times when we feel overwhelmed and alone. Years ago, I heard a priest who was experiencing really dark times with one of his children admit to a colleague, “I’m not sure I even believe right now.” Rather than berate that priest for such an admission, the colleague simply put a hand on his shoulder and quietly replied, “That’s okay. Right now we’ll believe for you.” Hope and love come together to buttress us when faith feels far from us. Hope looks forward, expands our perspective. Love empowers, gives us strength. Yes, we may well admit that in the dark moments, we cannot see any sense, any meaning, but we can dare to hope and know deep in our soul that somehow, someway, “all things work together for good.” And until we can reach that good, here or in paradise, we can look to our fellow pilgrims to stand with us. —C. K. (Chuck) Robertson

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Monday in Holy Week, April 14 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,

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generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against such things. —Galatians 5:22-23

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul invites us to live centered by faith in the love of Christ, our Liberator, and as slaves to the love of our neighbor, guided by the fruits offered to us by the Holy Spirit, source and giver of life, guide and inspiration for all of our lives. Whenever we, on our own or together with our communities, feel inspired to enlarge our economic opportunities, whenever we would like to try to open our way to improve our economic situation, let us be ever mindful of the presence of divine love which, through the Holy Spirit, is the cause of the fruits or the necessary virtues to undertake any effort to improve our lives. The most important of all those virtues is love. The movement of that love in our being is the source of inspiration, the motor to start every endeavor. That love is the one that, by loving God with all our strength, loving ourselves and loving those around us, fills us fully not only with joy and peace but also helps us to be kind, patient and gentle. If we know ourselves as faithful and placing all our trust in God, we will grow in humility and in self-confidence. As we feel ourselves filled with the Spirit and strengthened with the given fruits, we will enter in our power, we will affirm and share our wisdom, and our voices will be heard. Nothing and nobody will be able to go against our dreams of economic well-being. —Ema Rosero-Nordalm

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Tuesday in Holy Week, April 15 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as

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God in Christ has forgiven you. —Ephesians 4:31-32

How many times have you heard that someone is a disaster, a lost cause, that they’ll never learn? What do we expect from people we have written off in our lives and from those who have been written off by society? Years ago I had the privilege of working with a group of low-income recyclers. Although they were part of a burgeoning international movement, the people were literally the throwaways of their societies. They were constantly dismissed as being worse than the garbage that they picked. Many had a great deal of pride about their work. It was an honest living that provided a service that was good for the environment and was highly efficient. Through organizing, these formerly homeless people found meaning in their lives and found a path toward a solid future for their children. During the organizing process, some individuals were lost. These were the people who took the words they heard on the street to heart. Biting comments made by so-called respectable people, speaking in ways that were highly disrespectful, plunged these brave workers into despair. Our words count. We use words to send our prayers into heaven, to say grace for our many blessings and to transform our world. What messages will you use to share grace to all those who hear you today? —Judith Morrison 50


Wednesday in Holy Week, April 16 She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her servant girls.

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She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
 She girds herself with strength,
and makes her arms strong. —Proverbs 31:15-17

Through my visits to programs over the past year, I have met countless women who amazed, humbled and inspired me with their strength and generosity. As exemplified by the capable wife described in this passage from Proverbs, the women our partners work with really do surpass all. They rise early, work through the day to provide water, hot meals and healing and kindness to their husbands, children and many others. And they do so often with very few resources and despite many challenges. I think in particular of one woman I met in Nicaragua last year. She was chosen by her community to be an agricultural promoter. This means that she not only attends sessions to learn new techniques for diversifying what she grows and sells and for conserving her land, but also that she commits to sharing everything she learns with five other neighbors. This woman does so enthusiastically, dedicating countless hours to help other women and men gain new knowledge and skills. During this season of Lent, let us give thanks for the opportunities that each of us have and reflect on the ways in which women around the world tirelessly embrace and share new opportunities. —Sara Delaney 51


Maundy Thursday, April 17 Jesus said, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

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—John 13:15

On Maundy Thursday evening, the church celebrates one of the most lovely and complex liturgies of the year. In most congregations, people gather to recall both the washing of feet and the institution of the first Eucharist—the two central acts of Jesus’ last meal with his friends. Even in the midst of Holy Week, the Eucharist is celebrated with joy. Often, the altar is stripped bare in preparation for Good Friday. But there is also the washing of feet. Many congregations omit this practice, sometimes softening it by changing it to the washing of hands. In our culture, touching one another’s feet seems to break a taboo. Indeed it does. That is why it is so important, I think, to do what Jesus commanded—to practice this sign of vulnerability and love as we wash the feet of others and have our own feet washed. All pride is stripped away in this ritual, and our Christian charity is laid bare. In this tender act, we see that in Jesus the distinctions between powerful and powerless are wiped away. How different would our culture be if we found ways to be servants and to be served on a daily basis? —Scott Gunn

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Good Friday, April 18 Let the whole world see and know that things which were

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cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. —The Book of Common Prayer, p. 280

Ask any Episcopalian for a favorite prayer in The Book of Common Prayer, and many of us will turn to this one. It appears several times: on Good Friday, during the Great Vigil of Easter, just before the renewal of baptismal vows and during ordinations. Its poetry— and its vision—are captivating. They are also undeniably risky. O God, please look out for your church—not our church, but yours. Let the whole world see and know; in other words, the life of the church is a public life, dedicated to becoming a witness to the activity and purpose of the living God. And what is God doing? What is this plan of salvation? God is raising up things that have been cast down. God is renewing all that has become old and encrusted. God is wrapping arms of love around all of creation, through the incarnate One, Jesus Christ, and through his body, the church. I am glad we pray this prayer so often. In the desolation of Good Friday, it gives us a reason to hope. In the darkness of an Easter Vigil, we can see light on the horizon. Every time we say “I will” in baptism or ordination, this prayer reminds us just what mission we are signing on for. We see Christ, arms stretched wide to embrace and renew a world. We see our own arms, extensions of his, lifting and renewing. It’s risky. It’s worth it. —Stephanie Spellers 53


Holy Saturday, April 19 Will you … respect the dignity of every human being? —The Book of Common Prayer, p. 305

Every human being? Certainly I make an effort to respect the dignity of everyone I see at church, and people I meet day to day. But every human being? All seven billion? I can pray for them. What else can I do? While there are billions we will never see, our actions have consequences that reach further than we imagine. Every dollar we spend has ethical potential. Good may be done when spending one way. Or we may support enterprises that are doing a great deal of harm by spending differently. I don’t imagine we would be pleased purchasing shoes we knew our neighbor forced his children to make, yet without researching what we buy, we make similar purchases every day. Do we support farmers who pay workers a living wage, or do we search for cheaper food regardless of how the person who harvested it was treated? Almost every cell phone has slave labor inside it. What happens to our spirit when we understand our action of buying a phone that has kept a child in slavery? How might knowing that someone was abused in the making of products change our relationship to what we buy? How might it change us? Yes, these are complicated questions. And yes, we take that on in baptism. “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” How do we dare reply, “I will?” Only “With God’s help.” —Rosa Lee Harden 54


Easter day, April 20 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in

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Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. —John 20:16-18

It is a powerful testament to the role of women that Jesus empowers Mary to be the herald of his resurrection. In the context of the times, it must have been startling and shocking for the disciples to receive this news from a woman. It’s what gives the passage the visceral feel of the truth for me. Many times as I’ve sat with women in their villages and talked with them about their lives, their challenges and their triumphs, I’ve been struck by their forthright honesty. It is often the women who will give you the most nuanced analysis of the situation. The men of the village are often taken aback as they circle around the fringes of the conversation. Too often they’ve not really been listening, or maybe they never asked the questions. As we awaken this Easter morning to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection just as Mary Magdalene does in this passage from John, let us also undertake to listen to the entire Body of Christ…men and women both. God speaks through all of God’s children. —Robert W. Radtke

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For the Mission of the Church O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to tbose who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, bring the nations into your fold, pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. —The Book of Common Prayer, p. 257

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My Lenten Response During this season of reflection, I want to follow Jesus in caring for people in need. Enclosed is my Lenten offering to help make communities stronger and help the underserved, including women, people with disabilities and children and families affected by HIV/AIDS achieve long-term economic stability. Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners work to create economic opportunities and strengthen communities. In collaboration with church partners and local organizations, we empower individuals and families by helping them find creative ways to generate and increase their bottom line. We increase earnings potential in communities by: • Enabling people to develop small businesses in a variety of fields • Providing training for people to become effective managers, marketers and small business owners • Helping families in underserved communities access financial services, including building local partnerships that introduce savings, loans and insurance products • Promoting cooperatives to help individuals pool their resources and maximize their earning power and potential • Assisting communities in gaining access to local markets and improving the value of products to increase profits • Helping farming communities increase their crop yield so the surplus can be sold for income

  □ $50    □ $2,500

□ $100  □ $5,000

□ $500 □ $1,000 □ Other $___________

PLEASE COMPLETE THE INFORMATION ON THE NEXT PAGE.


________________________________________________________________ Name ________________________________________________________________ Address ________________________________________________________________ City, State, Zip ________________________________________________________________ E-mail address ________________________________________________________________ Name of your church         City Please make your check payable to Episcopal Relief & Development, and return this page with your gift in the attached envelope. You may also call 1.855.312.HEAL to make a donation. FOR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CREDIT CARD DONATIONS: Please charge my gift to my:

    □ VISA  □ Master Card   □ AMEX  □ Discover ________________________________________________________________ Account number         Expiration date  Security code ________________________________________________________________ Name on card Signature ________________________________________________________________ Phone number (required for credit card donations) Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of The Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria. BI14-1B


NAME______________________________________________ ADDRESS___________________________________________ CITY_______________________ STATE_______ ZIP________ o Please indicate if this is a new address.

Please RUSH my LENTEN response to strengthen communities and provide economic opportunities

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2014 Episcopal Relief & Development Lenten Meditations  

This eleventh edition of Episcopal Relief & Development's Lenten Meditations, captures reflections from leaders across the Anglican Communio...

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