December 8, 2010

Key Changes

The Christmas season is in full swing, even at work I have worked my magic with garland and glitter.  I am still as much a fanatic about Christmas as I ever was, but this year it's different. 
I'm not living with my parents, surrounded by the familiar decorations and loving memories of a childhood gone by....
my sister isn't here to go on shopping adventures with or plan and plot Christmas surprises the way we did before...
friends are moving not far away, but far enough to make a difference....
scheduling has become tighter than ever trying to fit in as much "quality" time as possible....
people I know have lost loved ones, others are struggling with disease or heartache. 
In the midst of glitter and mistletoe and Rudolph it seems, more apparent in this season than most, that something is not right.   All is not as it should be. 
Praise God that He allows us to claim that as truth. He says in His Word, "No, things are not as they should be."  Scripture is full of pictures of creation groaning as if in childbirth waiting for God to act.  Sin is the reason things are not right and even nature itself recognizes the need for change.  Creation knows that God who is faithful promised and still promises to act.
The advent season is a season of waiting, long lay the world in sin and error pining, recognizing what is broken and waiting expectantly for God to make it right.  That's why Jesus came, immortal made mortal, divine clothed in flesh...to make things right.  I think this realization is why I like advent hymns in minor keys.  With all the sweet and happy wishes for peace and joy during the holiday season, it's nice to be able to buck against it a bit and recognize that waiting is hard and brokenness hurts.  It reminds us that not only are we remembering a season of waiting, but that we are still waiting for the final fulfillment of all of God's promises to make all things new and wipe away all tears.
Yes, all is not as it should be, but I serve a God who keeps His promises.  I live in hope because  because God came to dwell with His people, to set them free.  I live in hope because a baby was born in Bethlehem, just like God said He would be.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded for with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.



Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose

December 1, 2010

Living with, living with, not dying from disease

Today is World AIDS Day.
About 33.3 million people are living with HIV worldwide.
To be honest, growing up, I never really thought HIV/AIDS.  Growing up in the 90s, the fear wasn't as great as it had been a few years before, a little more research had been done, and it just didn't really affect my life.
Even in college when my view expanded and the shear vastness of the epidemic set in, AIDS still didn't feel real to me.  The numbers where just too big, the need too great to wrap my brain around and since I wasn't personally affected by it, it was easier to just where a red ribbon and feel I had done my part.
Then came Kenya. 
The life expectancy in Kenya is 54...a full 24 years younger than the US.  While there is good news from UNAIDS about the numbers of people dying from AIDS going down and the number of people on antiretoviral therapy is going up, I'm still haunted by the faces of children I fell in love with.
I went to Kenya knowing that 1 in 3 people living in the slum that I was to work in was infected with HIV.   But it was easy to forget the numbers while playing with the kids...joking in broken kiswahili, laughing out loud, playing games in what little space there was to run and jump. 
Then after the bonds of 6 weeks of working and learning together where built a short-term medical team came in for a clinic.  I remember one doctor saying that there where physical signs of the disease, visible indicators that they looked for...he said not a single child he had seen that day was without those signs.  Objectively it made sense, we were in a slum in Nairobi, serving the poorest of the poor, of course the numbers would be high, but none of us were prepared for that.  Those children, so full of love and laughter in the midst of their circumstances, they are carrying a disease that causes their own blood cells to betray them.  Suddenly HIV/AIDS was no longer a disease of those who made unhealthy choices, these were children.
Today is a day that now has meaning.  Now when I where red ribbons, or buy a (red) product, or give to fill the need, I have faces to put on the pain and that has made the difference.
The work is not in vain, the fruit has been seen, infection rates are going down, ART is more available, we know so much more about this disease then ever before...and yet it is not enough.
Join with me today in praying for those infected, that medicine and education would be available, that families and friends would support and love them, that needs would be met, health would be protected,  that more people would be tested and given treatment, and most of all that God would fulfill His promise to make all things new, because that is the only lasting cure.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21:1-7

Joining with Emily and others in a community build in brokenness at Imperfect Prose