A message for the week starting on Sunday 21 November 2021
Lectionary Week: Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: 2 Samuel 23:1-7, Psalms 132:1-12, Revelations 1: 4-8, John 18:33-37
Real Peace (Shalom) in the Midst of AIDS
Focus Text: Revelations 1:4-8
The book of Revelations was written approximately 95 years after the birth of Christ. The future looked bleak. Many people were subjected to harsh treatment from the Roman government of the day. For the Christians, the situation was even worse. Their love for God was often the very cause of their suffering. In the midst of this suffering, they often asked, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Rev. 6:10).
This forms the background of the book of Revelations. To the seven churches in Asia (seven being the number of completeness and therefore indicating the entire church) grace and peace are promised (Rev. 1:4).
“Grace” was a typical Greek form of greeting, while “peace” was the typical Jewish greeting (shalom). Shalom means more than peace. Shalom is a situation of living in total contentment. This wish for total contentment for those who were suffering at the hands of the Romans, could be fulfilled because it was given by “Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 1:4-5). God is in control, no matter what!
In this time of HIV and AIDS, I have on more than one occasion whilst standing next to someone who was dying, wanted to shout out to the God: “How long, Lord, before You bring an end to this?” But then I realised that it was never God’s intention for people to suffer in this way. God’s wish for us is to experience shalom. I cannot stop people from dying. I can even do very little to alleviate people’s suffering. But through my personal caring, through my “being there” for others, I can help those who are suffering to experience something of God’s shalom.
To think about (or discuss): If we should be suffering from some kind of life-threatening disease (such as cancer), what would others have to do in order for us to experience God’s shalom? Would God not expect of us to do the same for someone living with HIV and AIDS?
Written by: Rev Nelis du Toit, Former Director and Board Member of CABSA