Submitted by Jan on Tue, 06/12/2016 – 09:41
Third Sunday of Advent
Year A (2016-2017)
Bible Book: Isaiah
Verse: 1 – 10
There are some days I would like to be able to poke the prophet Isaiah in the eye. The writings give a vision of beauty; of our God coming “with vengeance” and the people of God “singing, with everlasting joy upon their heads”. A vision of our God “coming”, being “on the way”, just over the horizon. Yet, I see very little of this in evidence. Being a natural pessimist, I often see the other vision that Isaiah presents; an unjust world where people are oppressed, where poverty and suffering are the lot of many and a few are able to live in enormous, protected luxury. Unfortunately, I think the prophet is right on both counts where our lives are an inextricable alchemy of the Kingdom of God and all the other mucky stuff that leads to human division and suffering. A number of weeks ago this was driven home to me in a surprising way.
I live in Canada where the HIV “problem”, such as it is, is little discussed in the general public square. As far as I can tell the LGBTI community has meaningful HIV interventions and various government departments have HIV representatives but not much attention is being paid to the infection. Until a month ago that was, when doctors in Saskatchewan ask the provincial Health Department to declare a state of emergency for HIV. This seems to be an old movie that many of us have seen before: marginalized communities, difficulties in getting access to good information and medical care and stigma. All the reporting that I have read and the doctors and community leaders who are speaking say that stigma covers HIV in secrecy and fear. It is at this point that I want to put my head in my hands and weep because this did not have to happen. We know so much about preventing this emergency and we have done so little.
And yet – Isaiah calls to God’s people: “Say to those who are fearful of heart, be strong, fear not”, I am coming. Furthermore, what I have learnt, especially when I was working in the HIV field, is that while I am waiting, I need to get my head out of my hands and do something. I have not quite decided what that “doing” is yet but I have skills, time and talent to offer in this field. I also know that while I am doing this there are others doing the same thing and there will be days where we recognise that we were not waiting for God but working with God. That there are many people walking along the “Holy Way”.
Thus, despite wanting to poke the revered prophet in the eye, I also gather hope from his vision of a “Holy Way”. I trust that we have walked, however haltingly, along this Way and still do. I gather hope from the successes that have been celebrated and it is from this hope that my “weak hands” and “feeble knees” are made strong again. I continue to believe that despite the fear and stigma associated with HIV we are on the “Holy Way”. Eventually we will have a time where HIV is no more because we have worked with God not only to create a future but a present where “sorrow and sighing shall flee away”.
Author: Michael, V (Ms)