Saturday, December 30, 2006

I must have been dreaming

Friday Five: Dream a Little Dream
From Songbird;

"In the Last Days," God says,"I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people:Your sons will prophesy,also your daughters;Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.When the time comes, I'll pour out my SpiritOn those who serve me, men and women both,and they'll prophesy."(Acts 2:17-18, The Message)

On this final Friday of 2006, it seems appropriate to speak of dreams.

A very important dream about a lighthouse played a role in my journey towards ordained ministry, and mine last night were vivid and included a flying church.

Please feel as untethered yourself in responding to this Friday Five.
Tell us all about:
1) a dream you remember from childhood I die and am buried young
2) a recurring or significant dream I am on a school bus winding around curves going all kind of places fast bumping up and down. Who is that wild driver? Why am I on this school bus.
3) a nightmare Someone is coming into the room reaching for me they are going to kill me. This has many variations.
4) a favorite daydream I am swimming, laying on a beach, soaring, being with my husband.
5) a dream for the New Year Just a dream?I have a dream for my children that they continue to grow in Jesus love and mercy. I dream of more one on one time with Bob. I dream of health for my church I am serving. I dream of a world where prejudice is no more, no more need for terrorism and wars, where starvation ends, homelessness is not a problem, abuse is stopped, oppression is gone, leadership by the best person, and good stewarship of the world. Just a dream mind you.

You know I don't know if I like these questions, and they are hard for me to answer.

So here is my bonus question: favorite song about dreaming, of course; "California Dreaming"
And yours?
How about a movie about Dreams: Groundhog Day

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Santa Bob" redeems himself

If you have read my previous post about Santa making a mistake, you know then what I am about to write. "Santa Bob" felt bad and went the day after Christmas amongst the crowds to purchase Christmas gifts for his wife. One thing he did was to go back to Lifeway and get the correct portable communion set. They even tried to sell him the same thing again. Lifeway, get a life. Then he went further and purchased some other items to make "Mrs. Claus Abi" happy. Yes, indeed, shoppping after Christmas and during the sales can be rewarding. And you can make your wife very happy.

Monday, December 25, 2006

On the other hand; the kids must have been good...

really good or Santa made another mistake. Our living room looked like Toys-r-us. Not really, but it sure seemed like it. The kids had a great time this morning, unwrapping the gifts. We worked hard at assembling the toys so they could play with them. I have never seen so many small parts to toys before. The kids had a good time playing with their gifts too. I was surprised but pleased at how they shared as well. Its been a very exciting day for them and us. Zachary did really well for his first Christmas. There is still one more gift to unwrap, assemble and play. The weather has been wet and rainy all day so that none of the outside toys were playable. . The last gift is out in the storage barn and is and outdoor item. Boo hoo. Hopefully tomorrow will be better or this may end up being a post winter present. That will be okay though they have enough to play with for a long time to come. I'll post pictures later.

Either I have been bad or Santa made a mistake

My husband being the good thoughtful "romantic" husband of mine that he is, went into the local Lifeway Christian Book store to get my Christmas present. He asked for a portable communion set, which they ssold him. But when I opened it Christmas morning, this is instead what I got: Communion Set - Remembrance® Box 210. He said they told him it was a portable communion set. Yeah, it is, but it isn't what he asked for, and it isn't a Christmas present.

I was hurt, and offended, and he felt humiliated. In a way for Bob it is the thought that counts. He tries hard, in fact too hard, and gets frozen about what to buy me, even if I give him hints or suggestions. I forgave him, but he hasn't forgiven himself yet. I haven't forgiven the salesperson at Lifeway yet. You see I have learned after this long of time together, I sure get a lot of thoughtful loving gifts all year long, everyday, and in ways I don't always realize. If I baased my marriage on the diamonds I haven't gotten, or the pearls that weren't natural or other fancy items that I didn't get, I would be divorced a hundred times over.

But isn't that the way it is with God and us, we don't get the once a year fancy diamonds, pearls and other fancy items from God. But everyday God is gifting us, even in ways we don't realize that are ten times more meaningful and loving and thoughtful than the once a year at Christmas gift. And by the way this gift of Christ that we seem to just celebrate at his birth is a gift that comes everyday for us as well.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

When the flu bug bites...

....and its Christmas, you just drudge through.
When the flu bug bites, and you have got a Christmas Eve Sermon to preach,
you just do the best you can do.
When the flu bug bites and your spouse is working,
you call for help from church members to take care of the little ones.
When the flu bug bites and you still got Christmas shopping to do,
you uh don't do it.
When the flu bug bites, and you have presents to wrap, you just throw them in a handy gift bag, even if it isn't a Christmas gift bag, and put it under the tree.
When the flu bug bites you load up on medicine that means you make no sense to no one, and nothing or no one makes sense to you.
When the flu bug bites, and you got people to see, homebound, nursing home, hospital, and sick, you don't go see them, you just call.
When the flu bug bites, and you got to serve communion at the Christmas Eve service, you get the lay leader to serve it instead after you have blessed it, but not with your sneezes and coughs.
When the flu bug bites and there are guests at church, you don't hug or shake hands or go near them, you just offer greetings from down the aisle.
When the flu bug bites and you have church member die and a funeral to do, you just go do it, even though it means graveside too and out in the cold. (Which probably made me sicker.)
When the flu bug bites and you haven't blogged in awhile or commented, you just say a prayer that everyblogpal(especially revgalblogpals) knows you love them, care about them, and will blog and comment as soon as you can.
When the flu bug bites, and its Christmas, you just drudge through.

P. S. I hope you don't get bitten by the flu bug, but instead get all the hugs and love you need.
So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night oh and God Bless Us Everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Freezing for Jesus" or Our outdoor Living Nativity

Sunday and Monday we had our living Nativity display for the community. Sunday was colder than last night, but it was cold enough. We now all have colds. We were "freezing for Jesus."

The youth were our actors and actresses. The Director gave them directions before we went out. She told them that this was a gift to the community, and that this was the only Christmas some of them would see. She told about being at the community Christmas Parades, and that their had been only one float with a Christian them, so we were showing them Jesus tonight. They did a great job. Although they kept disappearing behind the stable between cars. And last night Mary and Joseph were getting a little too cozy, and we had to separate them and keep reminding them to quit it. But they really shined when the cars came through. People even donated money, even though there was no charge, and we were giving them a gift. We are going to give the money to the youth for their mission trip they are working toward.

Before they had more scenes, but the director decided to cut it down this year, and I think it was just fine. But when she described the other scenes, I thought wow what a production! Several years ago, the former pastor wasn't going to do anything for Christmas and she found a book that had all the directions for putting on a living Nativity. Everybody was involved one way or another. I had people stop and ask me when we were going to do it. This year though many of our people being older just were not going to be able to do the cold. But they sent hot chocolate, cookies and came by to see it. We even had people bring their pets.

She, I, the Youth Minister, and the other adults were talking about the future of it for this church. And we came up with the idea of a one day interactive nativity scene. She walked around and began to put the ideas of it together. I had been asking how we can make it hospitable to the community, and so we are going to have a tent with hot chocolate and cookies and smores next time. I then said but we are not going to have Santa Claus are we? And she said no, but we can still come up with some kid friendly things. (At Calloway Gardens they have a big tent area with Santa Claus, food, gifts you can buy and other kid friendly things going on. I could just see that in my mind when she said tent. I am glad its not going to be that way, but they we are going to be even more hospitable to the community.)

Last night as I walked over to the church, the luminaries were lit up, the stars were in the sky, and there was the stable scene waiting for the youth to be once again the young Mary and Joseph. And we pray that for those who came by that they experienced Jesus in our living Nativity. In thinking about it, God has called all of us to be a "Living Nativity" for the world that they may once again expereince God's gift of love and mercy for their lives. I have heard that we are the only bible that some people read. Well perhaps we are the living nativity displaying the joy of salvation that people see. That makes me think what a simple action on our part it takes to show others the gift Jesus is for each one of them.

I don't have pictures, someone else took them, but when I get them, I'll post them.

If you got some ideas we sure would appreciate them.

And the question for you then is how are you "freezing for Jesus?" How are you being a "living Nativity" for others to see?

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Hot Romance and a Cold Night of Christmas Caroling

The questions from the revgalblogpal's friday five brought back romantic memory to me. I can't get it out of mind, yes even when I was preaching it came to me, so I thought I would write about it, risking all kinds of comments.

It was December of 1988, my first December in Columbus, Ga. I was living in the Whisperwood Apts., and had a group of friends that I hung out with. I was also a member of JAYCEES, and some of the them were part of the same group. Some of us decided we would go Christmas Caroling and have a party afterwards. So on a very cold night with mugs of hot chocolate, and laughter in the air, we went Christmas caroling around the apartments. We had such a good time we decided we get in the cars and go around the neighborhoods nearby and Carol our neighbors. I got in the car with my good friends, and we were joined by one of their neighbors who had decided to join us, a guy named Bob. Well here we go, just carrying on. The driver forgot about the rough railroad tracks and there goes the hot chocolate all over everybody. Whoops! What a mess and ouch, hot. But we all just laughed it off, stopped to sing and then went back to the apartments. I went home and changed my clothes and came back. Everybody else had done likewise to their respective homes. It was a good time. Well, that was the night of beginnings for Bob and my relationships to begin to blossom.

The clincher to our beginning dating, was a Christmas party I hosted at my house. I had cats, one of which was a fussy persian. When both of the cats took up with Bob, and he didn't push them away, I knew he was a good guy. From that point on we were together a lot, and started doing things as a couple. We got married in 1990 and have been together ever since.

So you might say Christmas Caroling has a special place in my heart. Oh and yes, hot chocolate! But a guy named Bob really has a special place in my heart.

Thanks Reverendmother for bringing that special memory back

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas is going to be expensive this year.

In light of the Friday Five, from revgalblogpals Question #4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. My answer was, None, what-so-ever, except it makes for a pretty Christmas light display at the Calloway Gardens. Although I have heard it rumored that the Twelve Days of Christnas has to do with a way of learning the catechism while things were pretty rotten in England for the Catholics. So I thought I would add to the discussion the cost for The items purchased for the 12 days of Christmas.

12 days, $75,000: Cost of Christmas rises again
One partridge still only $15, but don't even ask about the pear tree
PITTSBURGH - The cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is on the rise — again.
Buying each item in the song just once — from a partridge in a pear tree to a dozen drummers drumming — will cost you $18,920, or 3.1 percent more than last year, according to PNC Financial Services Group.
The total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses costs more than ever before — $75,122 — for all 364 items, up from $72,608 in 2005, a 3.5 percent increase.
"After years of stagnation, wages for skilled workers, including the song's dancers and musicians, have increased as the labor market has tightened," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Wealth Management. "Also, a decline in the housing market has dampened demand for luxury goods, such as gold rings."
While prices for the partridge, two turtle doves, three French hens, six geese and seven swans remained the same as last year, higher wages made the lords a-leaping, ladies dancing and pipers piping costlier.
The nine ladies dancing earned $4,759, 4 percent more, according to Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Co. The lords a-leaping got a 3 percent pay raise, while the drummers drumming and pipers piping earned 3.4 percent more.
The maids a-milking, however, weren't as lucky. They make the federal minimum wage, which has been $5.15 per hour since 1997.
Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much the swans, geese and drummers would cost if you purchased them at today's prices. PNC has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984.
For the price of buying all 364 items, you could get a brand new, fully-loaded special edition Hummer 2 sport utility vehicle, fully-loaded Cadillac XLR two-door roadster, a cruise around the world, a 5-carat diamond ring or top-of-the-line Cartier or Piaget watch.
Trying to find cheaper deals online won't help, either. The 364 items online would cost $125,767, including shipping, compared to $123,846 last year. You would spend $30,330 online for one of each item.
The nine ladies dancing are the costliest items on the list again, at $4,759. The seven swans a-swimming cost $4,200. And a pear tree saw the biggest jump, going from $89.99 in 2005 to $129.99 this year.
The cheapest? As always, the partridge, still $15.

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five from revgalblogpals

Reverendmother here... those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So...
1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
My initial thought. "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer." Wait, you didn't say 'redneck', you said "secular", oh my so many to choose from, "Winter Wonderland."

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better) "White Christmas" I guess its because of the movie, and cause I grew up in Fla. with no snow ever. Ice yes, snow no. Or "I'll be Home for Christmas" for all the times I was on-call and couldn't go home for Christmas and then decided I was home, my home.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire. "Oh Christmas Tree o christmas Tree" or "The Chipmunk Song" or Christmas Shoes

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. None, what-so-ever, except it makes for a pretty Christmas light display at the Calloway Gardens. Although I have heard it rumored that the Twelve Days of Christnas has to do with a way of learning the catechism while things were pretty rotten in England for the Catholics.

5. A favorite Christmas album, Anything by Mannheim Steamroller or George Winston

Bonus Favorite Silly Christmas Song I'm Getting Nuttin' For Christmas or Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer or Snoopy and the RedBaron, I Want a Hippapottumus for Christmas, All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, Little St. Nick, Santa Baby
Secular Spiritual Christmas Song: Do They Know It's Christmas Time, My Grown Up Christmas List, 7 O'clock News/Silent Night, Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)
Romantic Christmas Song: Please come Home for Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Merry Christmas Darling,
Country Christmas Songs Christmas in Dixie, Pretty Paper
Elvis Christmas Songs Blue Christmas(See I'll be home for Christmas), If Every Day was Like Christmas

Christmas Hymns sung during Advent?

Over at revgalblogpals the question for the Ask the Matriarch was about singing Christmas Hymns during Advent;

Dear Matriarchs,
This will be my fifth Advent in ministry, and I am still trying to negotiate the shark-infested waters of choosing hymns in December. Although I grew up primarily in a non-liturgical denomination, I have come to love Advent as a season of preparation for the new. Holding a hard line on the hymns my first year may well be one of the reasons my musician quit a few months later. Could you share your wisdom with regard to cleaving to Advent versus allowing the Baby Jesus to come just a little early?

[Note: I saw a couple of RevGals and BlogPals on LJ asking similar questions--"I didn't have Advent in my youth and I'm in love with Advent" kinds of things.... and my EFM group posits that they love Advent more than they do Christmas... so some reflections on the season in general, Advent vs. Christmas might be helpful too.]

You can read the Matriarch's answers at revgalblogpals. They asked me to post the links I suggested. Here is my full response with links:

Okay, some of you hardliners for Advent are going to think I am heretical and sacrilegious
Here's my thoughts and practices. I do not keep Christmas hymns out through the month of December. I pick my music by the theme I am preaching. So if I am preaching on hope, the music goes with hope, if it is a Christmas hymn, then we sing it. Having preached in a service where there were people who had not been to church, didn't know Jesus, we tried to gear the preaching, the music, whatever we did toward them using the idea of a felt need. We did light the candles, but even rewrote the liturgy for that to reflect the felt need and language they could understand.

But I also think worship is about God, and offering God our praise and adoration. God is the source and object of our worship. And I think whatever we do in worship needs to lead to that whether it is a seeker service or tradition, advent, Christmas, epiphany, Easter. John Wesley in his Directions for Singing said; "Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sin, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve her, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven ." vii The United Methodist Hymnal.

The church I serve now mainly has long term church members. Those who visit are new to the community. But we have youth who did not grow up in the church and so I try to keep it a bit of both.
Do you know that not one of the Christmas hymns is in the top ten of popular Christmas music anymore?
What does that say, and what is it we need to be doing to respond to that?

Now having said that, I remember being deeply touched when I for the first time went to an advent service. I would rather go to a liturgical midnight Christmas Eve service, than any other. I believe the liturgy, the bells, smells and whistles touches something deep within the core of human beings. I believe that it is the five senses being touched. So how can we make the service be that experiential for people? How can it be experiential to bring one to the object and source of their worship? God. I am not sure this says what you wanted to hear about the hymns. Maybe it provoked some the thought for addressing all parts of the worship than just the hymns....

The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship has some articles concerning this matter that might be helpful.

The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship has some articles concerning this matter that might be helpful. Here is one called a Modest proposal for Advent/Christmas Peace
Advent Reflections: From Despair to Hope
Advent, Year C: A Season of Flashbacks and Previews
Music Musings on adventWhat to do about AdventAdvent Hymns Set to Christmas Tunes
Advent: Finding the Balance Between the Sacred and Secular
Why the Holding Back?
A Christmas Lament
Christmas Before and After: Celebrating the Journey Commentary: Christmas and consumer captivity

Here are some from other writings
Bah! Humbug! Should Christians Give Up on Advent? from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Can We Sing Christmas Carols During Advent? Dennis Bratcher
Twas The Beginning of Advent Rev Todd Jenkins
The Presbyterians Today
Why Don't we sing Christmas Carols at Advent? St. Jude Catholic Church, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Advent: Waiting and Holy Hubbub First Congregational United Church of Christ Baraboo, WI
Advent Jeff Meyers
Advent and Christian Year Mark Roberts
How Do We Keep Advent Four Sundays Long?
Christmas Hymns in Corporate Worship
Advent Rev. Jeff Wright
Lights Out Christian Century

What's your thoughts about singing Christmas hymns during Advent?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Were back

Thank you to everybody for offering prayers, and support for Kara's surgery Wednesday. It was a success. I forgot to mention they also put a tube in her ear to replace the one that fell out. (Those things are tiny.) Kara was a good girl and did well. She has had some pain, but not like what she had when they put in the palate. We all spent the night in the hospital room. Those chairs that fold out into beds are okay for one night but no more. Came home today about 3:30pm. Everybody was happy to be back. Although, Katy wanted to keep staying with Jack and Ernie because she got alot of special attention. Its soft diet for Kara for a month. Okay how many ice creams and milkshakes can one eat?

I also forgot to mention that the washing machine broke on Tuesday. Everybody said I broke it, but Bob was doing a load when it broke. Just because I kept doing load after load this weekend and kept wondering where the clothes were coming from has nothing to do with it. Actually no telling how old it was since it belonged to the church. The men brought a brand new one today with a bigger load capacity. And they told us not to break this one.

Again thank you for the prayers and thoughts.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Kara has her surgery tomorrow

Tomorrow we go to Bham, Children's Hospital, for Kara's surgery. The Doc is going to repair her muscles that make her palate close properly. At this point it is not closing properly and she can't push the air out to be able to pronouce certain consonants and words. It should be a same day surgery, but if they can't get her to do her functions, she has to stay over night. Last time she wouldn't eat, and so we couldn't leave. Last time they repaired her palatte. Last time she had only been in the country a couple of months and spoke no English. This time though she is further ahead of the game.

So if you think of it, say a prayer for Kara, mommy, and daddy.
Katy is staying with a member from the church. Zach is coming with us. That will be interesting. "Wild man does the hospital, preacher is never allowed back."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

World's AIDS Campaign 2006

Support World AIDS Day

In honor of World's AIDS day, Dec. 1, I will be posting off and on about the campaign to fight the epidemic.

This is from World's AIDS Campaign

Did you know that in 2000, heads of state made a promise to halt and begin to reverse the spread of AIDS by 2015.New reports by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that, as of 2006, the epidemic continues to spread in every region of the world. By now more than 65 million people have been infected with HIV and well over 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981, 2.9 million in 2006 alone. At this rate, the WHO predicts that in the next 25 years another 117 million people will die, making AIDS the third leading cause of death worldwide.

In his World AIDS Day message, Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, perhaps said it best: “Accountability — the theme of World AIDS Day on Friday — requires every president and prime minister, every parliamentarian and politician, to decide and declare that "AIDS stops with me."

From The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself

"Close to His Heart: Tenderness"

Since 1988 a growing number of people around the world have commemorated December 1 as World AIDS Day. Despite the progress made, the statistics of this scourge, and especially its human toll, remain staggering. In the year 2004 about 5 million people were newly infected with HIV. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for half of these new infections. At the end of 2004 women accounted for 47% of all people living with HIV, although in the poorer parts of the world that figure is much higher. Since 1981 more than 20 million people have died of AIDS, and at the end of 2004 almost 40 million people were living with HIV—nearly 95% of whom live in the developing world. Africa alone has 12 million AIDS orphans.1
One favorite saint of mine who is intervening with compassionate care motivated by the tenderness of God is Dr. Art Ammann, the former Director of the Pediatric Immunology and Clinical Research Center at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. Back in the summer of 1981 Ammann treated a prostitute IV-drug abuser and three of her children, all four of whom presented unusual deficiencies in their immune systems that were aggravated by opportunistic infections that did not fit normal medical models of disease. He determined that the mother and all three children had contracted AIDS, which was tragic enough because the disease was fatal, but perhaps more devastating was his shocking conclusion, hotly contested and very controversial at the time, that HIV-AIDS was not limited to adults. Ammann determined that HIV had passed from the mother to her children as an "acquired" and not an "inherited" disease. In 1982, he thus documented the first cases of AIDS transmission from mother to infant and the first blood transfusion AIDS patients.
Ammann reflects back on those days: "We were disturbed not only by how severely sick patients were, but also by how the disease impacted entire families. HIV-AIDS created pain and suffering that ruptured relationships, families and communities, and incited a secondary worldwide epidemic of widows and orphans. Not long into the epidemic discrimination and stigmatization by both Christian and secular communities aggravated the anguish of those who already suffered with AIDS."
AIDS orphan in Zambia.
"As the epidemic grew, I saw an opportunity for Christians to respond, as they often had, with the tenderness of God the Father that was incarnated in the life and teachings of Jesus. Throughout my medical career I had related the teachings of Jesus to disease, pain and suffering. I found comfort in the words that He spoke and how He touched individuals. This became intensely relevant to my interactions with AIDS patients. Although I did not fully comprehend the meaning of their pain and suffering, I reached out to those with AIDS to offer comfort and hope—to touch them physically and spiritually as I felt that Jesus would have done."
"I also understood that Jesus the healer broke the stereotypes of His day and provided both physical and spiritual healing. Studying the Old Testament, I could not escape the conclusion that justice was linked directly to care for widows and orphans without qualification as to how they became a widow or orphan. Cause was not a determinant for rendering justice. 'Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow' (Psalms 117:17)."
"The most poignant example of Jesus's compassion was the Samaritan woman at the well, who perhaps today would represent the AIDS epidemic. John 4 records the meeting during which Jesus broke down religious and cultural barriers of the day. He, a Jew, met with her alone. She was the wrong gender, the wrong religion, the wrong ethnicity and a woman who was likely a prostitute. Yet, Jesus identified with her thirst for physical and spiritual needs. He met her spiritual needs with an offer of living water, words never spoken to another person. The words brought her comfort, revolutionized her life and brought others to hear Jesus. I cannot help but feel that the disciples, who had gone to the village for food, were excluded from the entire encounter because Jesus understood that they would not have comprehended how His compassion and forgiveness could overcome all forms of discrimination."
"I do not believe that God calls us to find a cure for AIDS, or for poverty, or for universal pain and suffering. But I do believe that He wants us to reach out to individuals whom He places in our path with a healing touch and with words of tenderness, love, forgiveness and hope. The AIDS epidemic is a test of how deeply we believe in the tenderness of God and the teachings of Jesus—how strong is our forgiveness, how rich is our compassion, and how far our love reaches out to overcome the stigmatization and discrimination of AIDS to comfort those in pain and suffering."
In 1998 Ammann founded Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, where today he ministers around the world. With a special focus on women and children, Global Strategies implements international strategies to prevent HIV infection and to work toward "a generation free of HIV." They have distributed the CD-ROM "Women, Children, and HIV" (containing more than 5,000 pages of medical information) to health professionals in over 50 countries. Their "Cradle of Life" program trains birth attendants to care for HIV infected pregnant women in resource-poor developing countries. My personal favorite is their "Save a Life" program that makes the drug nevirapine available to pregnant women, reducing mother to child transmission of HIV by as much as 50%. To date, Global Strategies has provided nevirapine or funds to purchase nevirapine for over 62,000 mother/infant pairs in over 70 hospitals or clinics in over 22 countries.

Global Strategies for HIV Prevention.
A few years ago the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) honored Ammann with their "Hero in Medicine" award. To me, Ammann is not only a scientific hero but a Christian saint who in the later years of his career has placed himself at the intersection of extreme human need in order to demonstrate the tenderness of God. Thanks to him, thousands of tragically sick people have experienced not only expert health care but a touch of love, and so have been brought "close to God's heart" (Isaiah 40:11).
For further reflection:* See Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness (2002).*


Friday, December 01, 2006

Advent Friday Five

Friday Five: Adventually

Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent!

Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:
1) Do you observe Advent in your church? Yes
2) How about at home? Yes
3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn? Yes, but does it have to be just one and only one? Alright, I vote for O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.) Well, they can't all be for the guys, can they? Mary had to have some fun after all. This pink or rose-colored candle typifies the act of sharing Christ. Pink symbolizes the Advent Rose, a time to pause in this season to Rejoice in the Lord. This candle is lit on Gaudette Sunday. Gaudette means "rejoice". This candle is also called the "joy" candle.
5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen? You got me, unless its the one with the male dancers(The Chippendales *no offense meant) Or the Cat Who Laughed or Harpold's or Weebl's or Electric December or Newby's Advert Calendar or The best Web Advent Calendar(AKA German Embassy (London) musical online Advent Calendar) or Artcylopedia or Bengal Cat Advent Calendar or Rooney Design Christmas Advent Calendar or Yule in Iceland Advent Calendar or qCreative Holiday Calendar or Holidays on the Net Advent Calendar or Dionaea's Advent Calendar (r to X rated) or Advent Calendar (for the Brits) or from Washington Cathedral Advent Calendar

For the kids: Erling's Advent Calendar or Online Interactive World Advent Calendar, Annie's Advent Calendar, Alice's Advent Calendar, cstitcher , Billy Bear,

More Thoughtful ones: The BBC, Belief Net, St. Margaret Mary Parish , Geneology of Jesus, Ann's Advent Calendar, Mary Page Advent Calendar, Advent Calendar: Celebrate Meeting Jesus, Explore Faith, Advent-Christmas Calendar,

An Advent Carol
Twas The Beginning of Advent
Top Ten Christmas Traditions that Didn't Last

After I did the original, I added a few more links. Can't tell I have learned to love Advent as a former Southern Baptist, can you? I'll be adding other items, links, thoughts as the days go by. Happy New Year!