Many blessings for the Christmas season!
"The church has mostly failed people living with AIDS because of its common theology that God curses those who are 'wicked' and blesses those who are 'good'."
This is just one of a few strong commentaries in this week's reflection on HIV/ AIDS, suffering in the book of Job, the 'Lazarus effect' and the role of the church by Annette Schouten Woudstra from Canada.
The article reflects on essays written by female African theologians who are thinking their ways through biblical worlds of meaning in the midst of the pandemic.
'The point of reading Job in the face of AIDS in Africa, is to tell us how not to talk about God in the times of suffering. This in itself provides a way in which to counter inadequate pastoral care, corrupt theological interpretations and unjustified fear with regard to HIV/AIDS.'
Please reflect on John 11: 1-44, the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus.
'Those who have seen it in action seem never to forget it, it is, as they say, a modern-miracle. I’m sure those who saw the first Lazarus-effect never forgot it. Jesus, full of emotion and love for this dead man and his sisters …, weeps when he sees the grave-site, when his sister Mary who has not come out to meet Jesus in her despair (in anger, exhaustion, confusion?) finally comes and falls at his feet.…I can’t help but think, when I hear stories of the “Lazarus-effect” of ARV treatment, and when I meet these people, shake their strong hands, alive—isn’t this what the church should be wanting, of all things, to get in on? The Lazarus-effect? The raising of the dead?
Let us pray:
§ Let us thank God for the 'Lazarus-effect' brought about by ARVs in many people suffering of AIDS and pray for the church to rise up to the challenge
§ For the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
A call for legally-binding funding to help impoverished nations adapt to climate change has been made at the start of the second week of the negotiations. It is estimated that at least $50 billion per year will be needed to help developing countries to adapt.
o Please pray for rich countries to agree to a binding obligation to separately fund adaptation to climate change in impoverished countries.
§ For Micah Challenge in Portugal who at the end of the Portuguese presidency of the EU engage strongly on trade and climate change issues.
o Please pray for energy and wisdom for Joao Martins Pedro, the coordinator of the campaign, as he engages with political leaders and mobilises churches to get involved.
Meditate on the Statistics
As you spend time in prayer and reflection, you may like to take a moment to silently understand with your heart the focus statistic we include each week (see below). Our hope is that you will find this series of statistics a useful resource in preparing presentations.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Target 7:Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
'Even if the spread of HIV/Aids was halted immediately, the economic impact would be felt for the next 50 years'
Source: World Bank, Nov 2007
Yours in Christ,
Regine and Michael
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