Submitted by Jan on Mon, 01/08/2016 – 23:10
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 13th after Pentecost, Proper 14
Year A (2016-2017)
Bible Book: Luke
Chapter: 12
Verse: 32 – 40

As you know by now, the 21st International AIDS Conference was held in Durban from the 18th to the 22nd of July.

Coming back from the Conference, I knew that I would have to write a message for this week. I wondered how to convey the sense of urgency that the conference left with me, when the reflection is supposed to focus on the lectionary reading for the week, and not just reflect the author’s feelings.

I kept remembering so much said at the conference by the many speakers:

“We must say no to complacency at this moment. There is no space for it.” Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa

“In the name of humanity, I ask each one of us to recommit to advocate, act and commit to make the biggest difference we can in our daily work.” And “There is a horrible funding gap that we have to address. We had so much money when we didn’t have the tools. Now we have the tools and we don’t have the money. I feel desperate about that.” Linda-Gail Bekker, incoming President of the International AIDS Society

“The world is pretty rattled these days, whether it’s migration issues, or other disease outbreaks. But AIDS is not over. We have a historic public health opportunity in every country. We have to continue to push.” Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the EGPAF.

“AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adolescent girls in Africa, and the second leading cause amongst this group in the world” Said over and over by many speakers.

“At the same time we are saving more lives than ever, the AIDS epidemic is coming back, it is rebounding and reemerging everywhere. The difference now to what we saw in the past is that the epidemic is much more selective, it’s affecting the ones you (as) faith leaders care most about, the ones left behind, the last and the least in your societies. This is the modern shape of the AIDS epidemic,” Luiz Loures, the deputy executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and assistant secretary-general of the United Nations.

I wondered how to convey the urgency of not losing focus and, in fact, generating a new urgency in the faith-based response to HIV.

And then I read the text – and was struck by verse 35! “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,” (NIV) or as The Message translates it: “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on!”

Now is indeed the time for us to “stay dressed” and to keep our shirts on!

One of my friends at the conference described it as follows: “There was an avalanche, a mud-slide, coming down the mountain. By very hard work and sustained effort, we managed to push this mud-slide back up the hill. It was very heavy, and it needed a lot of effort, time and money, to push this mudslide back. We were very successful, and made a lot of progress. Now we are nearly at the top. But we are growing tired, and some people are giving up. We are already losing some of what we gained. If we stop now, the mudslide will start slipping down the hill again, and might even be quicker and heavier and cause more damage. If we want to stop the mud slide, we need a bigger effort, to push it all the way back to the top of the mountain. This will take more money and effort in the short run, but is essential to stop the mudslide coming back even faster and heavier.”

The text reminds us to keep our lights burning, to keep the lights on! We need to do this for those who are living with HIV, and for those still at risk!

To think about: How will you keep the light burning when you grow weary?

Written by: Ms Lyn van Rooyen, Director: CABSA

Author: van Rooyen L (Ms)
Language: English

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