Church’s work in Haiti continues

Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Haiti still need our help. Rebuilding a devastated country – one devastated by political shenanigans and hurricanes long before the 2010 earthquake struck – takes time, prayer and the will to continue despite the long odds. 

Please, continue to pray for Haiti: Almighty God and heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being, send your Holy Spirit upon the people of Haiti, that they may know your love, feel your support, revel in your joy. Send your Spirit upon all those who continue to work in Haiti, rebuilding the lives of its people, so that they may be faithful servants who listen without dictating, who work in community and not as solo artists, who care first and foremost for your beloved children, and not for their own glory. Bring health to the people of Haiti, who put all their trust in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The latest news from The Episcopal Church Center:

Holy Trinity Cathedral, three weeks after the earthquake.

[October 2, 2012] With the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake which destroyed Haiti mere months away, the Episcopal Church continues its emphasis on assisting the church’s largest and fastest-growing diocese.

“It is a great gift and privilege for us to be able to work with the people of Haiti,” commented Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer.  “I never fail to be inspired by them and their indomitable sense of hope.  The problems and issues Haiti faces would absolutely devastate many.  The people of Haiti continue to face their challenges with faith and spiritual strength that calls forth a like response in all of us.”

The January 12, 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the Caribbean island country and cost many lives. Leveled were churches and diocesan facilities, including Holy Trinity Cathedral with its priceless murals in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

General Convention 2012 named the focused effort for the Diocese of Haiti as one of the priorities for the Church.

The newly reorganized Development Office of the Episcopal Church is coordinating all the fundraising efforts for the rebuilding of the Diocese of Haiti.  This follows the conclusion of the first phase of the project by Episcopal Church Foundation.

“We are thankful to the Episcopal Church Foundation for its grassroots campaign,” Bishop Sauls said.  “The baton has passed to the Development Office, which has been maintaining regular consultation with the diocese on how and where to help, looking at a wide variety of infrastructure needs.”

Bishop Duracin with President Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, three weeks after the earthquake.

To that end, an Episcopal Church team soon will visit Haiti to engage with diocesan leaders and officials. “This mission trip will include a thorough assessment and fact-finding to determine what steps will be taken in the short- and long-term for this all-encompassing project,” Bishop Sauls said.

Currently, Bishop Sauls and his staff are working diligently on a final agreement with an architect for the cathedral complex. He is also planning to lead a pilgrimage to Haiti in early 2013.

And, as another facet of the Church’s work with Haiti, the Church Center is now the home in a rental agreement with Le Consulat General de la Republique d’Haiti and the Haitian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

For information on how individuals, congregations, dioceses and groups can help the rebuilding of Haiti, contact Kim Moore at kmoore@episcopalchurch.org

To learn more:  http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/rebuild-our-church-haiti
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On the web:
The Episcopal Church’s work in Haiti continues
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/episcopal-church%E2%80%99s-work-haiti-continues


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Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

To paraphrase a former president in a presidential debate, “There they go again.”

Those Israelites.

Carping and complaining, moaning and groaning.

“If only we had meat to eat!”

“We remember … Egypt.”

“Our strength is dried up …”

“There is nothing … but this manna to look at.”

Here the Israelites are, multiple years into their journey in the wilderness, and they are fed up to their gills with manna – you know, bread from heaven manna? – and what do they want? What do they really want after all these years of eating the bread of heaven?

They want meat.

Oh, they can talk about the veggies and the fruit they used to eat in Egypt – I’m telling you, their doctors were probably really pleased, because they wanted a balanced diet, good for their hearts, but, no, what they really wanted was Capital M-Capital E.-Capital A.-Capital T-MEAT. Because they were tired of eating manna.

It’s not like the Israelites didn’t have enough to eat – they did.

They had the manna from heaven – the bread that God sent, in just the right amount. Every single morning, God sent them just the right amount of manna. And they didn’t want it anymore. Now I want you to know, in case no one has told you, manna actually is real. Manna is a real substance that you can find, to this day in the Sinai, if you are out in the remote areas, where the Israelites once sojourned. Manna is not what most people think it is. A lot of people think of manna and they think it is those little communion wafers that you get in church on Sunday mornings. Uh-uh-uh, that’s not manna. Manna is … um … plant lice excretion,[1] also known as bug poop.

That’s what the Israelites are complaining about this morning. They are tired of bug poop. It’s not that they are tired of having bug poop every day. What they are tired of is only having bug poop every day.

And frankly, let’s be honest, if had to eat bug poop every day, wouldn’t you be tired of it? After all, there are only so many ways you can fix bug poop. You can boil it. You can bake it. You can toast it. That’s it. There’s nothing else you can do with it. And if you don’t do that pretty quick, it goes rotten anyway.

So, we’re not exactly talking about gourmet meals that the Israelites had had all those years wandering in the wilderness.

It was nutritious.

But it was not gourmet.

The Israelites were not complaining about not having enough. Because they had enough.

And it wasn’t simply that they wanted more – more food, more variety.

They were complaining because they thought that they deserved more. They thought that they had been faithful long enough, wandering around in the wilderness, scooping up bug poop every single morning, and eating it morning, noon and night. They thought that they were special. And because they were special, they should have something more.

Sinai from space, via NASA

The problem is, these people had forgotten, in all those years of roaming the wilderness, of being fed day and night by God on high, of being led day and night by God on high, they forgot that they were special not because they had been so faithful for so long, but because they were created in God’s very image. God chose to create them in God’s very image, the image of love – because, my friends, we are not necessary to God, so God must have wanted us, God must have desired us, God must have loved us into being – and the image of community, the community that comes from when God said, “Let us create humankind in our image.”

The Israelites had forgotten that they were created in that image, the image of love and community, and in God’s version of love and community, it’s never about what you deserve. In God’s version of love and community, it’s not about what you have earned by your faithfulness.

In God’s version of love and community, it is always about what God gives you.

And what God gives you is always enough.

Always.

• • •

I have to tell you, when I read this passage about the Israelites carping and complaining about how hard their lives were because they were tired of eating bug poop every day, I think back and remember my friends, my “families,” in Kenya and in Honduras, in Sudan and in Haiti, and I think to myself, “Man, I know a whole slew of people who would give anything to have what you people  had. I know a slew of people who would love to have … enough.

I mean, come on.

The Israelites are getting a guaranteed meal delivered to their doorstep every single morning, and they are kvetching about this?

They have enough, and they want more?

When I read this passage, I remember the days when I lived in Kenya, and the rains didn’t come and they didn’t come, and our crops dried up and died almost as soon as we put them into the ground, and we had so little to eat … so little … and our children went hungry and their bellies distended, and their hair turned red because they were malnourished, because we were literally eating the leaves off the trees …

I remember walking through the market looking for anything – anything – that I could possibly eat, and over here, there would be this little pile of scraggly little onions (and they were scraggly), and over here there would be this little pile of scraggly little tomatoes – barely an excuse for a tomato – and then I would see these piles of weird greens that I had never seen before and that I had no idea how to cook …

I remember asking the mamas, “What are those greens?” and having them laugh at me, because there I was, the white woman who was the Peace Corps fundi wa maji, the water engineer, who brought them water when possible, and I had no idea what I was looking at …

And I remember them telling me, “Those are leaves from the trees, mama.” And how, when I asked, “Which trees?” the women laughed even more and said, “If we told you that, you wouldn’t have to buy them from us!”

And I remember asking them to teach me to cook those scraggly leaves with those scraggly onions and those scraggly excuses for tomatoes, and how much we all rejoiced when finally, some rain arrived, and we could once again grow some of our crops.

When I think of the way the Israelites moaned and groaned because they didn’t think they could stand one more bite of God’s bread from heaven, I remember what it was like in Honduras, where we ate rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice, morning, noon and night … because we didn’t have anything else …

I remember what it was like in Sudan, a country that has been at war for most of the last sixty years, where food shortages were common, and death stalks the land on a constant basis, and nearly weeping to discover that war had once again brought death to our doorsteps, depriving us of fish and tomatoes and vegetables, because war means death, and death means bodies in the Nile River, and bodies in the Nile River upstream from us meant cholera downstream where we lived … so we couldn’t eat anything that had come into contact with river water … and all we had left were onions and lentils, and lentils and onions, and onions … and onions …

 

I remember more rice and beans, beans and rice in Haiti, where the poor subsist on less than a dollar a day – if they are lucky – and where oftentimes, there were more beans than rice, because the rice industry has been destroyed in that country by politics and hurricanes and earthquakes … and where to stave off hunger, we would buy pieces of sugar cane, so that we could gnaw on it, so that t

I remember what it is like to be hungry every single day … to not have enough …he sugar would abate our hunger, but it did nothing for our nutrition, and our children there were just as malnourished, with their bellies just as distended, and their hair turning just as red as they did in Kenya.

So you know what I think, when I read about the Israelites demanding more, demanding M-E-A-T-all-capital-letters-MEAT?

I think: You have enough! Quit complaining!

• • •

The sad thing is – and we do not like to admit this – we all are like the Israelites at some point in our lives.

We have enough – enough food, enough medicine, enough opportunity – and at first we think, “Thank you, Lord.”

But then …

Then …

We start complaining.

Because after a while, enough is not enough.

After a while, we want more …

After a while, we stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and we start trying to surpass the Joneses, and the next thing you know, we have more than enough, and the Joneses?

Well, the Joneses are out of luck.

This is what our society teaches us right now – you know this. Look at the advertising you see. Advertising that says, “Buy more, more, more, more!” And, “If you buy this, your life will be fulfilled!” Until the next version comes out. Adversiting tells us we simply cannot live if we do not have the latest version of whatever the newest thing is, if we do not wear the newest styles, if we do not drive the newest cars.

And right now, for some strange reason, society is telling us, in every way possible, that it is perfectly okay to say, “I’ve got mine, and I don’t care if you ever get yours!”

But that attitude of us against them? That attitude that demands more, more, more? That attitude that leaves others in the dust?

That is not God’s plan for us, my friends.

That is not how God looks at us. That is not why God created us.

Because in God’s very good creation, there is no such thing as “us’s” and “thems.” All of us – each of us and all of us – are beloved children of God.

God’s plan is that each of us – every single one of us beloved children of God – has, quite simply, enough.

Not too little.

Not too much.

Simply …

Enough.

Because in God’s very good creation, the one in which we who were created in God’s very image live, God’s plan, God’s dream, is that each one of us has enough.

Our call, as faithful people of God, is to make God’s plan, God’s dream for God’s beloved creation, come to fruition.

It is on us to do what God wants done.

Now, the moral of the story for those carping, complaining, moaning, groaning Israelites is that God basically replied, “More?!? You want more?!?! I’ll give you more! I’ll give so much more that you will literally choke on the meat that I will send you, and you will die from it!!!”

Which is what happened. If you keep reading in Numbers, remember, this is what happened.

These carping, complaining, moaning, groaning, there-they-go-again, stiff-necked people, they got what they asked for, and you should always be careful about asking, because you might just get what you asked for.

It’s not a pleasant ending to this story. But it does get across God’s basic message to us, who, I pray, are not carping, complaining, moaning, groaning, there-they-go-again, stiff-necked people.

Hopefully, we actually hear God’s message, and hopefully, we actually live God’s message, which is this:

In God’s eyes, enough truly is enough.

Amen.

Sermon preached on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 21, at Immanuel Episcopal Church, Glencoe, Md., on 30 September 2012.


[1] From Barbara Brown Taylor’s Bread of Angels, Cowley Publications, 1997.

 

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Stephen Broadbent's "Samaritan Woman at the Well," sculpture at Chester Cathedral, England. Sculpted in 1994.

How often have we looked at someone and in that one look, made a snap judgment, placing that person in her place because of the way she dresses, deciding that because he is so good-looking, he must be a good guy?

And how often have we had someone take one look at us and make a snap decision about who we are, because of how we look, where we are, how we act in that one second of our lives?

“You could just tell that she was …”

“I knew just looking at him …”

Snap judgments, we call them.

No matter how many times we discover — later on — that we were wrong, that the scruffy-looking one had a giant heart for helping others, that the good-looking one was really a cad, we still make snap judgments about people all the time.

The first day I dared to venture out on my own in Haiti – completely on my own, with only my newly learned Creole and my bravado to accompany me – I made it only one block before I was surrounded by Haitian men.

“Miss! Miss!” one very tall man yelled. “Buy my painting?”

Soon every single one of these men was saying the same thing: “Miss! Miss! Buy my painting? No, buy mine! I give you a very good price. American money, no problem!”

These men, who had never seen me before and who presumed that because I am white I was (a) American, (b) rich, (c) willing to part with my money, and (d) willing to part with way too much of my money because I was (a) American and (b) rich, made a snap judgment about me. They never asked my name. They never engaged me as a real person.

To them, I was merely a quick buck – a buck they desperately needed, to be sure, so that they could support themselves and their families – but a buck nonetheless.

When Jesus and the Samaritan woman met at Jacob’s well in Sychar, there was a whole lot of snap judging going on.

The woman made snap judgments about Jesus:

•Just another man used to ordering women around;

•An outsider (she didn’t know him, and trust me, in small villages, everyone knows everyone);

•A Jew (most likely because of his dress and perhaps his accent – otherwise, Samaritans and Jews pretty much looked and sounded alike);

•And therefore an enemy of sorts (Jews and Samaritans hadn’t gotten along for almost 600 years, ever since the Babylonian exile – it was an old theological argument about whose worship was better, purer, truer, more faithful …).

The disciples, who show up a tad later in the story, made their own snap judgments about the woman:

•A woman and therefore a lesser human being (sorry, ladies, that was a fact in the days when our Lord and Savior walked the earth);

•An enemy of sorts (remember what I said before about Samaritans and Jews – we’re talking about almost six hundred years of enmity here …);

•A brazen woman (men and women did not speak to each other in public if they didn’t know each other, and since Jesus was their Lord and Teacher, she obviously must have been the one to initiate the conversation, which only a brazen woman would have done);

•And an outsider in her own village (she was drawing water alone, something that women do in groups for all kinds of reasons, the first being the community that forms when people are doing arduous work together).

And Jesus? Well, he, too, made a snap judgment. But his was of a different sort, for he looked at this woman and instantly – instantly – saw who she was and what she was:

Jesus took one look and knew that she was a beloved child of God, in need of all the love and affirmation that only God could give her (because, obviously, her community wasn’t showering her with its love).

It was Jesus’ snap judgment that counted in the end … that overruled the snap judgments of both the woman and his disciples, that declared that despite what the woman thought of herself, despite what the disciples thought of her, despite what anyone thought of her, this woman was a beloved child of God.

So this woman, who came to the well to slake her physical thirst – to satisfy her need for actual water – ended up having her spiritual thirst, her need to be known and loved, satisfied instead.

She already was known – oh, my, was she known in Sychar. Everyone knew that she had had five husbands and was now living with another man – without benefit of marriage. Everyone knew that obviously, she had sinned in some way, for why else would she have been widowed so many times, or divorced so many times, or some combination thereof? And everyone knew that since she by living with a man without benefit of marriage, she obviously was a sinner!

But she didn’t want to be known that way. I mean, who would? Who wants to go through life having others look at you and find you wanting, in just a glance? Who wants to be thought of as a lesser human being, as a sinner, because of circumstances beyond your own control? Who wants to feel unloved in a world in which love is in such short supply as it is?

This Samaritan woman at the well? She was dying of thirst for a little bit of love. And here comes Jesus – an outsider himself, traveling through a foreign land – who looks at her and instead of finding her wanting, knows her to be a beloved child of God, loved from before time until the ages of ages.

He knows her story, he knows her life, so well … he knows that what she wants more than anything else is to know that she is loved, despite the circumstances of her life, despite any choices she has made, despite any sins she has committed. Jesus knows that God looks at her and makes God’s own snap judgment: I love you.

My friends, the bad news is: God knows you. God knows everything about you … everything.

The good news is: God knows you. God knows everything about you … everything.

And God still loves you.

Exactly as you are …

Even when you make mistakes …

Even when you sin …

Even when others do not appreciate you …

Even when others shun you …

God still loves you.

The only snap judgment that God makes about us – about each of us – is that we belong to God. And because we belong to God, we are known … and in that knowing, we are loved.

You want to slake the thirst you have, that we all have, to be known and loved?

Well, know this:

God knows you and God still loves you.

Now, I don’t want you leaving this place today and going home saying, “The Episcopal preacher at church said today that we can do whatever we want, because God loves us.” No! Don’t say that, because God does judge us! God has high standards for us. God’s desire, God’s dream for us, is that we become the people God has created us to be: People who love. People who love God, people who love each other, not just as ourselves (that’s hard enough to do on the days when we love ourselves, but on those days when we don’t love ourselves? Well, on those days, it’s really easy not to love our neighbors), but as Jesus loves us.

Which means that God wants us to live our lives as God’s beloved children in God’s community of beloved children.

Not by looking at each other and making snap judgments based on societal standards that could not care less about what God wants.

Not by shunning each other.

But by caring for each other.

By loving each other.

It’s a tall order, isn’t it? To love one another as Jesus loved us, as God loves us?

Living lives of love means that we have to stop making snap judgments and start living in community. We have to talk with each other. We have to listen to each other. We have to get to know each other, not on the surface, not by our looks or our dress or the color of our skin or our accents … but deep down, by our stories.

Because only then can we really know each other. Only then can we really love each other.

• • •

Patrick, Frantzy and Tony Fleresca, my good friends in Haiti.

Those young men on the street in Haiti, the ones who surrounded me and tried to sell me their paintings, who viewed me as nothing more than a quick buck to be made?

Their names are Frantzy. And Tony. And Patrick. And Enil and Hercules. And Ernest and Salwa and the other Enil …

After I convinced them that I was not going to buy art from them, that I lived there now and was not a rich American tourist or aid worker but a missionary and priest, we started to get to know each other. We told each other our stories. We began to look out for each other. We began to take care of each other.

When we stop looking at each other as objects and start getting to know each other, start learning each other’s stories … well, that’s when we begin to live into the image in which God has created us, an image of love and community.

Trust me:

God knows our stories.

And God still loves us.

And if that knowledge doesn’t slake your thirst, doesn’t satisfy your deepest needs, I don’t know what will.

We are known.

And we are loved.

Amen.

A sermon preached on the Third Sunday of Lent, 27 March 2011, Year A, at Bensalem United Methodist Church, Bensalem, PA.

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Build up, build up, prepare the way

The Episcopal Church Foundation announced today that Archbishop Desmond Tutu, retired Primate of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is joining the call to “build up, build up, prepare the way” for the rebuilding of the Episcopal Church in Haiti. Having served in Haiti for nearly a year, this effort is near and dear to my heart and, I hope, to yours.

The announcement:



FOR INFORMATION:          Teresa S. Mathes, Episcopal Church Foundation

717-599-0627  TMathes@EpiscopalFoundation.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Endorses

The Episcopal Church Rebuild Our Church in Haiti Appeal

March 23, 2011, New York, NY – Archbishop Desmond Tutu has issued a statement in support of the efforts of The Episcopal Church to help the

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Diocese of Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake through its Rebuild Our Church in Haiti appeal.

Archbishop Tutu stated:

“We are all God’s children and we must be one. For this reason I am proud of my sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church who are joining as one to help their sisters and brothers in Haiti rebuild the church that has helped them endure such difficult times. There is no “conservative” or “liberal” in this project. There is no rich or poor. There is one community of faith joining hands across a continent to raise up a new place for hope to dwell. I honor the church-wide effort to rebuild Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince; it deserves our wholehearted and generous support.”

Rebuild Our Church in Haiti is a church-wide appeal that seeks to engage Episcopal dioceses, congregations, and individuals in helping the people of Haiti to rebuild Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince.  Already gifts have been received from 70 dioceses, and congregations are spearheading local efforts to raise funds.

“The support of Archbishop Tutu, a Nobel Peace Laureate and internationally recognized advocate for human rights, will inspire and energize Episcopalians who are participating in the appeal,” said Donald V. Romanik, President of the Episcopal Church Foundation which is coordinating the appeal.

Ms. Barbara Byers, the Diocesan Coordinator for the Diocese of Southern Virginia noted that “we are honored and delighted to learn of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s support of this effort.  We are truly one church, joining as one to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.”  The Very Rev. Stephen Carlsen, Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Indianapolis (Diocese of Indianapolis), which has announced a joint matching gift with Trinity Wall Street, NYC (Diocese of New York) of $500,000, said, “Archbishop Tutu’s support will help inspire us all to respond to the challenge of rebuilding the Church in Haiti.  This is our chance to come together – across the country, around the world, from all ends of every spectrum – and answer this simple, clear call.”

The Baptism of Our Lord mural at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port au Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake.

For more information, visit www.episcopalchurch.org/haitiappeal or contact Terri Mathes at tmathes@episcopalfoundation.org or 717-599-0627.

 

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Helping refugees in Ecuador

Episcopal Relief & Development sent word today about the work it is doing in the Diocese of Central Ecuador, working to help meet the basic material needs of Colombian refugees in Quito, Ecuador’s capital.

From its statement: ERD is calling this move a “temporary expansion of relief services … to cover a gap in services usually provided by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), which has suspended its operations during a period of restructuring. Blankets, sleeping mats and personal care kits will be distributed to an estimated 100 families during the coming month.”

ERD is one of those organizations that doesn’t put 1,000 volunteers on the ground to do the relief and development. Instead, it partners with various organizations and works with Episcopal and Anglican partners who are already in place, who know the needs of the people, and who guide the whole process.

In working this way, ERD serves as a good model for how we truly can be partners and friends with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Listening to the needs and desires of the people is more important than problem-solving in a vacuum.

I worked with ERD extensively after the earthquake in Haiti, and know how hard it is some days to listen first, and then act. But if we truly want to be partners with others around the world, we have to take the time to listen. And we have to respect those who speak.

Read more from ERD’s work in Ecuador here.

 

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Haiti, get up!

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, 25 April 2010, Year C, St. Jacques le Juste, Petion Ville, Haiti

Today’s reading from the Book of Acts is actually a parable about Haiti. It is a parable that speaks of who we are and what is happening in Haiti right now. I know that might not make sense, but bear with me and you will see: The story of Tabitha is our story.

In Acts, we are told the story of a disciple of Jesus named Tabitha, a woman who did many good works and who cared for those in need. Tabitha took ill, and then she died. As was the tradition in her culture, she had to be buried before sundown. So her family took her body, washed it, laid it out on a table, and then they sent for Peter, who was nearby. Come quickly, they said. Tabitha has died.

Peter came, made everyone leave the room, prayed over Tabitha and then said to her, “Tabitha, get up!”

And she did. She opened her eyes, saw Peter and got up. Because of her resurrection, we are told, many people believed in the Lord.

This story is a parable our own lives right here and right now because it is so similar to everything going on in Haiti. The earthquake came; many died; more were injured. The world saw this and said, “Ah, Haiti is dead.” Many in the world rushed here to help; others gave generously. But still, there was the thought, a thought sometimes said aloud, that Haiti was dead.

I know this. Bishop Duracin has me working in both the United States and Haiti, so I hear what is being said and I read what is being written. There are many who believe that Haiti cannot recover from this tragedy. There are some who say that Haiti should become a commonwealth of the United States. That the government of Haiti should be removed. That the constitution should be rewritten. There are those who claim that Haitians cannot direct the recovery, that “they” know better what needs to happen, that “they” should be in charge.

These people – they don’t know Haiti. They don’t know Haitians.

Because what they are saying is not true! Haiti is not dead!

It is not dead because Haiti and its people are listening to God, to the Good Shepherd who knows them each by name, and whose voice they know. Haitians are paying attention to the one voice that is calling to them.

And what is God, what is the Good Shepherd, saying to us here?

“Haiti, get up!”

“Get up!”

• • •

Three weeks ago, the Diocese of Haiti held its Synod, the Synod that had been delayed by the earthquake of Jan. 12.  Many of us went – priests, deacons, lay delegates – and at the Synod, we were given a message by Bishop Duracin:

“Haiti, Leve Kanpe Pou Ou Mache!

“Haiti, Stand Up and Walk!”

Haiti, get up!

And we are getting up and we will get up, because we do listen to the voice of God. Haiti is one of the most God-fearing countries I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in a lot of countries. Haitians are Christians. They know God. They love God.

So when God says to us here in Haiti, “Get up!”  that’s what we need to do.

Get up!

No matter how hard it seems, no matter the difficulties we encounter.

And yes, there are difficulties.

The Psalmist this morning speaks of walking through the valley of death.  That is certainly true here right now. Just look out the door. Look at your own homes, at your own lives. Every single person in this room has lost someone, many of you have lost many people, more of you have lost your homes. You are walking through the valley of death.

But the Psalmist also is clear: We have no need to fear evil, because God is with us.

God is the one who is calling us, who is telling us to get up.

God, the Good Shepherd, the one we all know by name, the one whose voice we have heard before and are hearing now and will hear forever, is speaking to us right now.

Haiti is not dead.

Haiti is alive, and its people are alive, and its faith is alive.

Those of you who are here to help Haiti are here because you, too, hear God calling to you: Get up! God says.

That is our mission now: Not just to get up ourselves, but to help Haiti get up. The Church is leading the way, but we can only do so if we listen to the voice we know best, the voice of the one who loves us.

Get up!

Get up!

Get up!

Amen.

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Dear Beloved in Christ:

Easter in Haiti

Easter services here were incredibly powerful today. To be able to proclaim, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!” in a place that is still filled with death almost defies description.

Hearing the angel proclaim “He is not here” in Luke’s Gospel brought tears to my eyes, for there are so many — perhaps as many as 300,000 — who are not here with us now. At the English service, I read Bishop Duracin’s Easter message to the congregation. (In Haiti, the Bishop is the preacher in all of our parishes.) In his message, Bishop spoke of how we remember “a relative, a friend, one who was close to us, all of whom, in most cases, were denied funeral ceremonies where we could say goodbye with human dignity. Thus,” he wrote, “crossing the desert has been and still is long and extremely difficult.” Although I had read the message in advance, I still found myself almost unable to continue. I know I was not the only one thinking of friends and family, and seeing again the awful devastation which still remains with us, or the bodies that are still being found.

But Bishop Duracin also told us: “The devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, does not stop us from singing in joy and gladness, ‘Alleluia, He is risen.’ … We can no longer continue to look for Jesus among the dead, we can no longer remain in tears because of our dead, because, if during their earthly life, they knew love, their place is in the Kingdom with the Lord to reign with Him in His eternal glory.”

His message, and that of the Gospel, reminded us that we have much to celebrate here even in the midst of death, because “God is a God of life, a life that flows from his love for humanity, a love that is embodied in his Son Jesus Christ.”

I drew strength from that message, and from the celebration of the Eucharist, my first Easter Eucharist in this country. At the fraction, I found myself so caught up in the joy of the moment that I repeated the Easter acclamation, a slip of the tongue that brought smiles to all of us. By the end of the service, the joy of the Resurrection was so powerful that I repeated that acclamation again, with great gusto, and with equal gusto, the congregation replied, nearly shouting, “The Lord is risen indeed! ALLELUIA!”

Yes, we are surrounded by death in Haiti. But we are also surrounded by new life, by the new creation that God proclaims. Which is why, especially here, we are proclaiming “Alleluia!” with all our beings.

Bishop Duracin and all of Haiti bids all of you, “Joyeuses Paques!” Happy Easter!

Your servant in Christ,

Lauren

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