Submitted by Lynn on Tue, 03/12/2013 – 00:05
Year A (2013-2014)
Bible Book: Isaiah / Jesaja
Chapter: 11
Verse: 1 – 10

The first Sunday of Advent was also World AIDS Day. If your faith community uses the traditional symbols of Advent, you would have lit the candle representing Hope. I know that for many people this seems unlikely – thinking of HIV and hope in the same sentence. But we heard of many signs of hope in the HIV epidemic.

Now, on the second Sunday of Advent, when we light the candle of peace, we read this dream of extraordinary peace.

Isa 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
Isa 11:7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
We really want to call it a dream, because surely this image can never come true! Surely the author was dreaming!

Yes, he was! He was dreaming the Godly dream, the dream of a different reality where there is no predator and prey, where the weak becomes the leader, where the vulnerable is safe from any danger. He was dreaming of ‘shalom’.

And I have to contrast this with the reality around me.
– A world where it is necessary to have a 16 day campaign against violence against women and children in the time of advent;
– A world in which a six week old baby is raped in Galeshewe;
– A world in which, by day 5 of the 16 days, 53 rapes were reported in the Western Cape;
– A world in which there is little visible of peace – not in the home, and not in my country.
But the text in Isaiah starts and ends with with the One who brings the different reality. The texts of this Sunday also challenge us to be part of this different reality, to challenge those systems and structures that break down the shalom of the dream.

One very simple way in which we at CABSA challenge the sexual and gender based violence that destroys the shalom in our world, is the “Thursdays in Black” campaign.

Together with organisations and individuals world wide, we wear black clothes every Thursday, and wear a badge like the one on the left side of this page.

We do this:
– In protest against systems and societies that encourage violence in any form.
– In solidarity with 1 in 4 women worldwide who face violence in their lives.
– In mourning for men, women and children who are harmed and killed in sexual violence.
– For awareness and information about the challenges of GBV.
– In the hope that a different reality is possible.
By making this pledge we undertake to stand up and make a difference in the world where we live, work and play.
On Sunday 8 December, CABSA and the World Council of Churches will launch a toolkit to guide and support faith communities in their response to the challenges of sexual and gender based violence. This will also be available on the website at www.thursdaysinblack.co.za in the next month.

To think about: How does your faith community respond to gender based violence? How do you help bring ‘shalom’ in families facing violence?

Author: van Rooyen L (Ms)
Language: English

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